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James Owen of Swindon Commercial Services

Team behind one of Britain’s biggest solar farms launch video ahead of planning inquiry

The Science Museum Group and Swindon Commercial Services – the company set up by Swindon Council to work in the green energy sector – have released a short film about the Wroughton Airfield Solar Park ahead of the planning inspector’s Public Inquiry in September.

The public inquiry into one of Britain’s biggest solar farms starts on Tuesday, September 9 at 10 am, and will sit on various dates until Thursday, September 18.

The hearing takes place in the Council Chamber at Swindon Borough Council and is open to the public.

James Owen, commercial director of Swindon Commercial Services, said: “We want people to watch the film and make up their own minds if this is a good site for a solar park. It’s a very effective way of showing the site in context – a dilapidated second-world war airfield, with the urban backdrop of Swindon.”

The planning application to build a 40 MW solar park the size of 96 football pitches on the on the disused World War 2 airfield, which would generate enough renewable electricity to power 12,000 homes, was called in for a public inquiry by secretary of state Eric Pickles in April.

It 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.

Wroughton AirfieldMatt Moore, head of the Science Museum Group’s Wroughton site, said: “The benefits of the project, to both the museum and the local community, substantially outweigh the limited harm that may be perceived from the location at the very edge of the AONB. We think the film gets that message across effectively.”

Mr Owen added: “This is exactly the sort of solar project the government should be supporting. The local community wants it; they will be able to invest directly in it; and the site is already scarred with tarmac and ugly buildings. Please have your say and keep writing your letters of support to the Planning Inspector.”

The project proposal also 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.

Residents would 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.

While the plans have had very strong support from the local community, with over 80 percent in favour, the AONB and English Heritage objected to the project, which lies on the edge of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would be visible from Barbury Castle.

See the film and find out more about the project at