A great-grandson of Winston Churchill is at the forefront of a battle against solar developers set in the English countryside.
According to The Sunday Times, Jack Churchill, 38, has launched the Wake Up Wiltshire campaign in his home village of Seend. Empty farmland near the village is set to be turned into the largest solar farm in Britain, and Churchill junior doesn’t like it,
Residents from the area, specifically from the villages of west Wiltshire and Melksham, launched the ‘Wake Up Wiltshire!’ campaign, claiming that farmland was being covered by solar farms without properly informing residents of the scale of developments.
“Within five miles of our hilltop village we have 505 [solar] acres now that are constructed, in planning or proposed,” Churchill said. “There is something of a gold rush happening in our area.”
Currently, 23 sites across Wiltshire – almost 400 hectares – are being allotted for solar farms, with most starting construction this winter.
Plans have been submitted for a 79-acre solar farm site in the village of Poulshot which neighbours Seend, whilst a consultation is under way into a 165-acre site planned to the east of Melksham on Sandridge Hill.
Local newspaper reports says that solar farms are already largely banned from areas of “outstanding natural beauty” – which accounts for large parts of south, southwest and east Wiltshire, as well as the northwest corner in the Cotswolds. The flatter farmland of the Avon Vale down the western side of the county, from Malmesbury to Trowbridge, is the location for 13 of the 23 solar parks.
“Like many in Wiltshire, the residents of Seend are generally in favour of renewable energy but question whether these are the most appropriate locations for industrial scale solar farms to be sited when taking into account the size of the entire county,” said a spokesperson.
Residents feel the area nearby to Seend is being unfairly targeted as Wiltshire Council aims to have 30 percent of energy used in the county generated by renewable source a reality by 2020.
A spokesperson from the campaigns says this equates to 367MW of energy of which can be generated by approximately 2,000 acres of land. If all planned solar farms, 472 acres, come to fruition it will account for approximately 25% of the council’s target – all within five miles of Seend.