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‘Dirty’ generators approved for solar farm

AN ENERGY company has been given the go- ahead to install diesel-powered generators at a solar farm near Melksham despite opposition from local residents, councillors and MPMichelle Donelan.

Wiltshire Council gave permission for 10 back-up generators to be  installed at Roundponds Solar Farm on fields between the former George Ward School and Broughton Gifford.

Parish councillor Martin Freeman, who spoke out against the plans last year said, “It’s very disappointing that this application has been approved. We’ve said all along that diesel is the dirtiest form of power generation there is, and it’s sad to see that Wiltshire Council has allowed this to go ahead.

“Power generation is one of the biggest concerns in the village – Broughton Gifford is a victim of its circumstances in that there’s an easy connection to the grid nearby.

“It does seem that financial interests take precedent over the people who live here. The diesel generators will make a lot of money but won’t do much for our energy needs or green credentials.”

The plans, submitted in September last year, propose a compound be set up to house five pairs of standby generators, three transformers, an equipment store and three fuel storage tanks.

The application predicted that the plant, designed to provide emergency electricity when the National Grid is under pressure, could use 218,000 litres of diesel per year.

MP for the Chippenham constituency,  Michelle Donelan, wrote to Wiltshire Council last year in support of Broughton Gifford Parish Council, which had formally objected ‘in the strongest possible terms’ to the application.

The MP wrote, “You will be aware that the village of Broughton Gifford has been subjected to numerous, and in my view excessive, applications for solar arrays on agricultural land and this has caused substantial unrest within the community.

“I have concerns that [the development] would have a significant and detrimental effect on the village. The site, I believe, is designated farmland, not an industrial site and I therefore believe that this application for heavy industrial [use] goes against Wiltshire’s Core Strategy.”

The plans can be view online in the planning search at www.wiltshire .gov.uk – enter reference 15/08809/FUL.