'This community is furious' - Hundreds gather at meeting against Wiltshire solar park

  • ITV News' Louisa Britton has been speaking to residents.

Hundreds of residents in Wiltshire joined a meeting in Malmesbury opposing plans for a huge solar farm, branding them 'immoral' and 'outrageous'.

The Lime Down Solar Park proposals are for a two thousand acre site on what is currently farmland.

If given the go ahead, campaigners say it will be one of the biggest solar farms in Europe and will destroy their communities.

Those behind the development say it would generate enough energy to power for 115,000 homes. Local MP James Gray has vowed to fight 'tooth and nail' against the proposals which campaigners say are driving a wedge through their community.

A view looking towards the proposed Lime Down solar farm site in the Wiltshire countryside near Malmesbury and Sherston Credit: PA

Piers Dibben, one of the residents who attended the meeting said: "The devastating effect on our community has been absolutely huge, and not only just with us, but with the people involved in the scheme as well, because they are our friends and they are they are now on one side of the fence and we're on the other.

"It's eaten up people in such a big way that I'm not surprised as many people have come out tonight.

Hugh Roach, who is part of the Stop Lime Down campaign group said: "It is going to be a long fight. We are using every weapon at our disposal.

"Let the battle commence because this community is furious."

If the two thousand acres solar farm does get built, Anna-Kate and Craig Fuller's home in Norton, will be one of those that will be surrounded by panels.

Craig said: "I don't think anybody quite comprehends the scale of it is equivalent to 1,240 football pitches.

Anna-Kate and Craig's home would be surrounded by the solar farm Credit: ITV News

"It's massive and it stretches it's almost nine miles that way over to Rodbourne, all the way back to Sherston and down to Foxley, up to Alderton, Hullavington, Corston, all are going to have implications and be affected by this. The scale of it is huge."

Anna Kate added: "We heard about it from a neighbour three weeks ago. And it was it was like a hand grenade went off into the into the community.

"We're all actually devastated. Every green field that you see literally left and right is going to be covered in solar panels. It's absolutely vast."

Natasha Worrall, project development manager at Island Green Power said Lime Down Solar Park would provide “a significant amount of clean electricity for businesses and homes in the region”.

“As well as providing clean electricity which helps us move away from polluting fossil fuels, it is our ambition to design the project in a way that also boosts and enhances local wildlife by delivering a net gain in biodiversity,” she said.

“We are dedicated to responsible land use and believe that the development and delivery of utility-scale farms can co-exist harmoniously with their environment.”

She added that feedback received during the consultation would help develop the proposals, adding that the company was keen to hear from as many members of the community as possible.

The scale of the project means it is classed as a nationally significant infrastructure project so the planning decision will rest with the Secretary of State and the planning inspectorate.

An initial consultation is currently underway with the first formal consultation on the plans due to take place in the autumn.

A petition set up by campaigners has also raised more than 10,000 signatures.

A spokesperson for Lime Down Solar farm said: "We are currently in the early stages of developing our proposals for Lime Down Solar Park. This initial stage of consultation is intended for us to talk with local communities to introduce ourselves, understand their views and listen to their ideas.

"We will then factor all feedback we receive over the course of this consultation into our plans, helping inform the ongoing development of our proposals and the decisions we need to make."