Hullavington residents speak out against energy proposal

A decision on plans for a solar farm north of Hullavington, 3km from the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty, has been deferred for a site visit.

Wessex Solar Energy in Northumberland applied in May to install rows of three-metre high solar photovoltaic panels to provide clean energy for up to 25 years.

The area planned for the seven megawatt solar park is on 17.4 hectares of arable fields to either side of Hill Hayes Lane.

During consultation, Wiltshire Council received two comments in favour of the development and 18 against, including one from Hullavington Parish Council. Objections mainly sited a “blight on the landscape” and a perceived danger of construction lorries.

Sue Tudge, headteacher of Hullavington Primary School, wrote: “The traffic associated with this is routed past the school and also the pre-school. Many of the children and their families walk to and from school and we are concerned that the increased traffic will greaten the risk to them.”

Hullavington resident Dr Chris Macnee, of Newtown, wrote: “The reason that I came to this village was the beautiful countryside and this solar park would ruin this. The villagers will get no compensation such as reduced electricity bills.”

Wessex Solar Energy told the council: “The proposed development represents a total investment of the order of £6m-£7m in isolation, a proportion of which will be spent in the local area, primarily on civil and electrical contractors. We will encourage the contractor who will construct the project to use locally sourced materials and locally based contractors.”

The application was called in by Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott to be discussed at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday last week.

She said: “What happens if the company goes bust – so really when the Government withdraws its funding and it becomes uneconomical? There should be a clause that means they have to remove it; if not, we’ll have a mess left in the countryside.”

The council’s case officer said if the park reached the end of its serviceable life before 25 years it would be removed.

Regarding a financial contribution from the developer, she said: “We should be asking the parish council if they have negotiated before giving them permission and undermining that negotiation.”

Brinkworth councillor Toby Sturgis said: “I fully support renewable energy but I don’t believe things have been adequately investigated.”

The committee voted to defer a decision until after visiting the site. The developer’s target date for operation is early 2014.

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