Wiltshire Publications

New solar farm for Westbury? But councillors have concerns

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LAND on the west side of Storridge Road could be transformed into a state-of-the-art solar farm that could help provide power to almost 9,000 homes in the local area. 

A plan of the solar farm site.

A planning application by Next Power SPV 15 Limited was submitted to Wiltshire Council on 9th November to construct a solar farm on the 43-hectare land that lies near the West Wilts Trading Estate. 

Although the site is just outside the town boundary, Westbury town councillors were invited to comment on the plans. At a meeting of their highways, planning and development committee, on Monday 20th December, councillors voiced their concern over the location of the planned solar farm, saying that it was on the site of a proposed relief road for Westbury.   

Cllr Mike Sutton, chair of the committee said, “Although this is outside of our area, we are still entitled to comment. I would suggest that we write to Wiltshire Council and say that we object at this stage on the grounds that this would negate the proposed relief road to Westbury and ask for any further comments.” 

No route for a Westbury relief road has been publicly announced by Wiltshire Council, but there have been growing demands in recent weeks for the council to push ahead with plans.

Outlining their plans for the solar farm, Intelligent Alternatives, who are representing Next Power said, “The proposed solar farm will generate enough renewable energy each year to power the equivalent of approximately 8,700 homes in the local area. This will make a valuable contribution to local and national efforts to tackle climate change. It is noted that Wiltshire Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019. The most recent reports and statements from the committee on climate change, the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the Prime Minster, and the government’s net zero strategy are clear that stronger and prompter action to tackle climate change is required, to fully decarbonise the power sector by 2035.  

“There will also be substantial biodiversity net gain, in the form of the retention of existing habitats on site and their enhancement through additional tree and hedge planting, proposed bird boxes and bat boxes, wildlife habitats and wildflower margins. 

“The electricity generated can also support Arla Foods’ Westbury Dairy to the east of the site, by making a significant contribution to the facility’s energy requirements. This will support a key local business by improving its energy resilience and contribute to Arla Foods’ aim to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2030. The battery energy storage will support the ‘balancing’ of the grid.”

Intelligent Alternatives added, “Relevant issues and impacts have been carefully considered and assessed in the documentation which accompanies the application. The site is well screened from the bridleway to the south and new screening is proposed on more open boundaries. The land is Grade 3b (poorer quality), there will be limited impacts on heritage assets, flooding and drainage has been carefully considered.” 

The application can be found on Wiltshire Council’s planning portal, https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/  quoting reference PL/2021/10592.

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