Wiltshire Publications

Proposal for solar farm on outskirts of Westbury

ANEWsolar farm, covering approximately 12.5 hectares, is being planned for land at Blenches Mill, Slag Lane. 

The site, which is agricultural land and has been used for grazing and arable use, is located on the outskirts of Westbury.

Although Westbury Town Council has supported the planning application, it has called for a more detailed archaeological assessment of the site. Councillors also observe that development of the site could have implications for any future plans for a Westbury bypass, which is still acknowledged by Wiltshire Council. A link road included in plans for the rejected Eastern Bypass, would run through the site of the proposed solar farm.

The solar farm would consist of rows of stationary solar panels, while the land could continue to be used for grazing. It is proposed the solar farm would be in operation for 25 years, before being decommissioned and the land returned to agricultural use. The applicants, Solar Power Generation Ltd, say that the solar farm would have ‘minimum visual impact’ with screening vegetation around the site.

Solar Power Generation Ltd say, “As outlined within the Government’s 2009 Energy White Paper, there is a need to ensure that 15% of our energy comes from renewable energy sources by 2020. This provides material encouragement for the proposed solar farm, which is further strengthened by renewable energy policies contained within the development plan. These policies promote generation of power from renewable energy sources and require renewable energy schemes to consider careful siting and minimisation of environmental and visual impacts.”

Councillors have been considering whether the people of Westbury are behind such a renewable energy development in the town. At their December council meeting, cllr Russell Hawker questioned the popularity of renewable energy developments. He said “I don’t think a solar farm has much benefit to the community and is a blot on the landscape.”

However, cllr Gordon King said, “I think most people in the town would support this,” while cllr David Jenkins said, “With the costs of energy increasing, it will be inevitable that alternative energy is required.”

The solar farm is the latest in a line of recent renewable energy developments proposed for the area. Plans for a separate solar park off Hawkeridge Road, opposite the West Wiltshire Trading Estate, have been put forward by Bath property business HPH Commercial Property Ltd. In addition, a wind farm for Grange Farm near West Ashton has been proposed by REG Windpower.