Lower Shaw Farm, West Swindon’s educational, environmental, cultural and community centre, is celebrating the first anniversary since gaining long term security with the installation of 20 solar panels providing 5 kilowatts of elecricity.
Although the former dairy farm on Old Shaw Lane has been used for community purposes since the late 1970s, its future was thrown in to doubt in 2006 when Swindon Council proposed redevelopment of the site.
A concerted protest campaign by residents and supporters from further afield resulted in the council reconsidering it’s idea to ‘repurpose’ the site but negotiations took until December 2011 to conclude a 25 year lease for the site.
With the long term future secured, farm trustee Matt Holland said it was now possible to invest in improving the site, including generating energy. “We’ve been wanting to install solar panels for a few years but with only on a one-year rolling lease we didn’t know what was round the corner. Our 25 year lease agreement with the council was a really great decision for the farm and also Swindon as a whole.
“This is the first step and we are hoping to make the farm carbon-neutral. We can’t wait to get on with other projects that we have been unable to plan for up to now.
"We’ve heated the activity hall with a wood burner for several years, but we’re really excited that the solar panels will be generating electricity for use on site.
The solar panels have been mounted horizontally on the roof of the big red dutch barn used for children’s play to capture maximum solar input. They are not visible to the public. "The idea that we are generating energy on top of the barn whilst children are expending energy underneath is a really great thought," added Matt.
Pictured, Matt with fellow trustee Andrea Hirsch with the solar generators on top of the big red barn
Read about how Lower Shaw Farm was saved for Swindon.
Discover more about the farm at www.lowershawfarm.co.uk