PLANS to build one of the country's biggest solar parks on picturesque countryside near Malmesbury have provoked uproar.

Outraged residents, councillors and politicians are calling for the 2,000-acre Lime Down Solar Park project to be scrapped.

International developer Island Green Power wants to erect solar panels at six locations including Sherston, Hullavington and Stanton St Quintin to form one giant project which would then be connected to the National Grid at Melksham.

Besides the PV panels, battery storage facilities and a substation are planned along with fencing and CCTV.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has called these plans an 'outrageous invasion' of some of the best landscapes in his constituency and vows to 'oppose it lock, stock and barrel'.

However, Island Green says the project would generate enough energy to power around 115,000 homes.

Opposition is gaining momentum with a campaign group called Stop Lime Down Solar Park urging residents to object.

Among the opponents are Craig and Anna-Kate Fuller who say the plan threatens to destroy the landscape, agricultural land and natural habitats.

Around 150 people congregated at their property near Sherston last Thursday morning, March 21 with banners and placards against the scheme.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Around 150 people came together to support the Stop Lime Down Solar Park campaignAround 150 people came together to support the Stop Lime Down Solar Park campaign (Image: Anna-Kate Fuller)

Mr Fuller said: "The plans came out of nowhere, we were completely blindsided.

"I have put my whole life on hold to focus on campaigning against this, we must fight it.

“This is not a NIMBY viewpoint - this is a fight for Wiltshire as the route to Melksham as well as the 2,000 acres of productive agricultural land which protects food production, will all be effected.

"The small lanes will all require passing places which will rip out hedgerows and change the whole area into an industrial complex.

"This is a fight for food production and Wiltshire."

The first consultation stage is now underway and ends on Friday, April 26.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Group of children supporting the Stop Lime Down Solar Park Campaign outside Sherston Village HallGroup of children supporting the Stop Lime Down Solar Park Campaign outside Sherston Village Hall (Image: Anna-Kate Fuller)

Because it is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, the application will bypass Wiltshire Council and will need approval from a government planning inspector.

The developer says it will provide a huge amounts of clean electricity for businesses and homes in the region and will support the government's net-zero objectives.

However, Martin Smith, Wiltshire Council member for Sherston, is not convinced that the scheme will benefit local people.

He said: "It is a prime example of industrialisation of the rural landscape using farmland that we can ill afford to lose, given the heightened need to provide food security for the UK.

"The main beneficiaries of such a scheme are a few large landowners and an energy company working out of an offshore tax haven.

"This will do nothing for the energy costs inflicted on local people."

Many of the proposed sites are in the new South Cotswolds constituency and two candidates for this seat James Gray (Conservative) and Dr Roz Savage (Lib Dem) have both joined the campaign to fight the plans.

Mr Gray said: “I pledge my total opposition to this outrageous invasion of some of the most lovely and remote of all landscapes in North Wiltshire.

"Constituents can be certain that I will oppose it lock, stock and barrel.”

Meanwhile, Dr Savage said: "As an environmental advocate for the last two decades, I’m in favour of renewables, but in the right forms, the right amounts, and the right places.

"Our beautiful rolling countryside is being exploited by a corporate wolf disguised in green clothing."

Defending the scheme Natasha Worrall, project development manager of the solar park, said: “We are excited to bring forward these plans to provide a significant amount of clean electricity for business and homes in the region and support national and regional aims to decarbonise our electricity systems.

"Feedback received during stage one consultation will help us to develop our proposals to meet these aims, and we want to hear from as many members of the community as possible.

"I would like to encourage anyone with an interest in the project to get in touch and take part in our consultation.”