Solar Farm Update
Earlier this year a planning application was submitted by AEE Renewables, the developers, for a Solar Farm adjacent to the Highworth Road in South Marston. Many villagers attended a road show presented by the company in the Village Hall, where the environmental features of the installation were presented, including a spiral stake system to support the panels.
This had the advantage of ease of installation and removal, with mininal environmental damage at the end of the solar farm’s life. In addition, the potential to supply cheaper, cleaner energy to the village from the solar farm was also discussed. The Parish Council therefore decided not to object the application, but requested changes to ensure that existing rights of way along footpaths remained.
In order to obtain government grants, the solar farm had to start supplying energy to a consumer by 1st August 2011. This was achieved by installing a direct feed from the first solar panels to the Honda Plant.
AEE Renewables have signed a non-disclosure agreement with Honda and therefore we do not have details of any supply arrangements which may now be in place. Our requests for further meetings to discuss options for supply of power to the village are currently being declined.
We have also been informed by Swindon Borough Council that during the planning consultation period a number of archaeological remains of potential historic significance were identified. The developer therefore produced a revised design for mounting the solar panels. This involved mounting the panels on wire cages filled with stones and consent was given for this design. However the construction of this arrangement could not meet the required completion date. The developer therefore requested that concrete pad foundations be used instead. Swindon Borough Council Planning Department considered this change to be a non-material amendment and therefore approved the change without informing or consulting the village. The first we knew about the change was when we saw the concrete pads being installed.
The Parish Council will therefore be complaining to Swindon Borough Council that we were neither informed nor consulted on this issue which we consider to be more significant than a non-material amendment. There is also a potential issue concerning an increased flooding risk due to additional run-off water from the site as a result of this change. However, there is probably little that we can do now to change the situation.
Finally, there have been some complaints concerning the installation work. If you have any issues regarding consequential damage or access to public rights of way as a result of the installation, please can you pass any details on to the Parish Council.
In order to identify infrastructure issues associated with village expansion and to investigate the potential to connect all properties in the village to the main sewer system, we have been asked to provide details of properties in the village that use septic tanks. The parish council would therefore be grateful if you could inform the Parish Clerk (email@example.com, 01793 820529) if your property has a septic tank.
Parish Council Meetings
Members of the public are welcome to attend Parish Council meetings which are held on the third Tuesday of the month, at 7.30pm in the Village Hall. There is an “Open 10 Minutes” section at the start of the meeting where you are invited to ask questions or discuss an agenda item. It would be helpful if you could inform the Chairman at the start of the meeting of any items that you wish to raise or discuss. All agendas are published on the village website and on the village notice boards, prior to the meetings