Community Foundation solar park fund a ray of light for eco projects

By Barrie Hudson - 4 March 2021

CharityEducationCommunity

More than £57,000 in community grants has been generated by a Wroughton solar park.

  • Some of the money will be used to help maintain Chiseldon's historic Washpool

    Some of the money will be used to help maintain Chiseldon's historic Washpool

A UK-first eco playground, a beauty spot and a parish hall will be helped by the cash.

Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Science Museums Group Wroughton Solar Park Community Benefit Fund, which distributes income from the solar park there, has awarded the money to the projects.

Chiseldon Primary and Nursery School has been awarded almost £26,000 towards building what is believed to be the UK’s first renewable energy playground. 

It is designed to teach youngsters about sustainable power and will feature a wind turbine and two solar panels to show the impact of the weather.

Chair of Governors Emily Gravestock said: “We want the playground to encourage the children to be more active but it will also teach them STEM subjects at the same time, which is something the school is passionate about. 

"It’s a way of sparking children’s interest in something that will make a real difference to their future.

“The grant will make a phenomenal difference because we would simply not be able to do this with standard school funds. The fact that the bulk of what we need has been provided for us means we can actually achieve something which has been a dream of the school for a while.”

The playground will also have a see-saw with a solar panel on top that glows either when it is powered by the sun or by pupils using it, and a human ‘hamster-wheel’ that displays how much energy is being expended.

The school has yet to decide on a domestic-sized turbine that wouldn’t need planning permission or something bigger. 

“There will be an added benefit if we can pull some of the renewable energy to the school to help with bills but that isn’t the primary focus of this activity, so it is still under discussion,” said Mrs Gravestock. “If we don’t need planning permission, we would hope to have the playground built over the summer.”

The Washpool Area Restoration Project in Chiseldon has been awarded £10,700 to carry out major improvements to pathways to allow a popular part of the beauty spot to stay open.

The Washpoool, an historic pool at the bottom of a deep valley, created by farmers to wash livestock in medieval times, has been looked after by the community group since 2006. Volunteers have cleared rubbish and overgrown bushes and installed fencing, hedging, gates, wildlife ponds and boardwalks. 

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