Wildlife trust's solar array plan ruffles feathers
9:00am Monday 4th March 2013 in News
OWNERS of a private nature reserve have objected to plans by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for solar panels on a former landfill site in the Cotswold Water Park.
The plan for a two hectare site at Sandpool Farm revealed in the Standard last month, is expected to provide enough electricity to power 225 homes.
However Stephen and Vivienne Jones, who run the Cotswold Willow Pool bed and breakfast right next door say their sight of an open landscape will be replaced by the back view of dozens of solar panels.
“It is a beautiful field. Our guests photograph, draw and paint. We get deer, foxes, badgers and otters,” said Mrs Jones. “It is just totally alien to have all this metal there.”
She stressed they did not object to the idea of the array. “We approve of solar panels, it is just the positioning of it is so totally selfish.”
The couple have had their B&B, which shares a 400-yard boundary with the site, for the past 11 years and have built it up into a lakeside retreat with nature trails and fishing.
She explained that the application site was possibly the highest section of the field. “If they moved it further south it would be more efficient and take up less area.”
In the application agent Simon Chambers said: “The visual impact of a development is a very subjective issue and it is difficult to predict local perceptions, however, the solar arrays should not be a prominent landmark compared with the surrounding land topography and boundary vegetation.”
The site is part of a gravel pit that was restored with landfill and then landscaped with a view to creating a golf course. It meant the profile of the land was raised.
But the project never went ahead and the site became part of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust which bought it to provide grazing for when fields at the nearby Clattinger and Lower Moor farms are flooded.
The application will be decided by Cotswold District Council.