Plans to build the Britains’s largest onshore solar farm on a former airfield at Wroughton in Wiltshire moved a stage closer to realisation on 10 December when Swindon Borough Council’s planning committee authorised the Head of Planning to approve them.
The scheme will now be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles will have 21 days to review the application.
The development is a joint project between Swindon Commercial Services Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council, and the Science Museum Group, which owns the site and uses it to store 30,000 objects from the reserve national collections.
The new solar farm will cover 170 acres (67ha) of unused land on the old airfield, pictured. With a capacity of 40MW it will generate enough renewable electricity to supply the equivalent of 12,000 average homes.
Matt Moore, Head of Wroughton Site, Science Museum Group, said: “Solar farms should be sited appropriately and sensitively – this is a great location, it’s semi-industrial land, close to a major town. It will provide a secure and reliable income to help the Science Museum continue our work conserving the national collections and improving conditions on site.”
The project not only helps the Museum and SCS but includes a community benefit fund for Wroughton which would amount to around £40,000 a year, for the next 30 years, to be allocated by the community for local projects. This is the largest solar community benefit scheme in the UK.
Residents will also have the opportunity to invest directly in the solar farm, with a planned minimum investment of just £50, giving them an ownership stake in the project.
James Owen, Commercial Director at Swindon Commercial Services Ltd, said: “This project has had outstanding support from the local community throughout, so we are extremely pleased that Swindon Council has authorised its approval. Residents of Wroughton will benefit from a community fund of £40,000 a year, and it will help put Swindon on the map as a greener place to live and work.”