Snarlton solar farm: CPRE welcomes planning refusal

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has welcomed a decision to reject plans for one of Britain's biggest solar farms in Wiltshire.

Sandridge Solar Power wanted to install 170,000 panels on 197 acres of land at Snarlton Farm, near Melksham.

Wiltshire County Council officers had been recommended to approve the application but it was rejected on the grounds of its scale and visual impact.

But Sandridge said the plant would not take the land out of agricultural use.

"Sheep can continue to graze on the land around the panels," a spokesman said.

"The plant would save more than 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its 25-year lifetime and the site complies with national and local planning policy and guidelines."

'Protect the countryside'

The developer said it would now lodge an appeal against the refusal.

But John Kirkman, chairman of the Kennet district group of the CPRE, said there were 14 solar arrays either permitted or proposed within six miles (10km) of Melksham.

"That's beginning to make those arrays very substantial features in the countryside," he said.

"We acknowledge we need to use renewable energy sources but at the same time it is important to protect the countryside.

"There are lots of industrial units and farm buildings with south-facing roofs - we should be developing all of those before putting things on green fields."

The solar farm would produce enough power for 11,000 homes - enough for the nearby town of Melksham.

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