'Say no to Sunnica' campaign opposes solar farm that could be build on land near Worlington, Chippenham and Snailwell
Villagers are demanding the UK’s largest solar farm is not built on farmland close to Worlington, Chippenham and Snailwell.
Steve Wilson said he had set up an action group called ‘Say no to Sunnica Energy Farm’ because the proposal to build on a 1,500 hectare area that straddles three sites was ‘too big’.
“We are happy to have solar panels in our backyard, but just don’t take the whole yard,” he said, adding that he thought residents had not been adequately consulted.
Sunnica is a joint venture between Tribus Energy and PS Renewables. Proponents claim it would have potential to meet the energy needs of around 100,000 homes.
John Smith, a member of West Row Parish Council, said: “No campaign is opposed to renewable energy; it just has to be the right place. This is not Grade 3 or 4 farm land, it’s some of the best farm land we have in Europe.
“We are the breadbasket of the UK and maintaining fertile land is vital after Brexit.
“It may change the designation of the countryside to ‘industrial’, which could pave the way for more projects. Energy farms typically have a 25-year lifespan and there is nothing to say the land will return to farming.”
Sunnica said more than 11,000 households had been informed in a communication drive, and the land would be restored at the end of the tenure. A spokesman added: “We are aiming to use land which is not considered by the Government to be ‘best and most versatile’ – that is, Grades 3b and 4. This has been a major consideration.”
More positive comments were made about the proposals on the Bury Free Press Facebook page. Emily Mizen said: “We desperately need to cut down on our use of fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy such as solar and wind. Very much in favour of this.” Paula Smith added: “Brilliant. No problem with these at all.”
A poll on the Bury Free Press website found 56 per cent were opposed from 188 votes.