Bright future for Axminster solar farm plan?

PUBLISHED: 16:28 18 June 2012 | UPDATED: 16:42 18 June 2012

Gilbert Churchill who hopes to cover his 40- acre Axminster  farm with solar panels. Photo by Chris Carson

Gilbert Churchill who hopes to cover his 40- acre Axminster farm with solar panels. Photo by Chris Carson


£10million plant would provide enough electricity to power 2,000 local homes

A £10million solar farm could soon be providing much of Axminster’s energy needs.

A planning application to build the ‘green’ power plant, on a 40-acre site at Raymond’s Hill, is due to be submitted by the end of the month.

If approved, the five-megawatt station could be up and running by the end of next year - providing the total electricity needs for some 2,000 local homes.

The panels will almost completely cover the 45-acre Newlands Farm owned by Gilbert Churchill. But they will be placed at a height which will enable him to continue grazing sheep on the grass beneath them.

The solar farm will be constructed and operated by TGC Renewables who unveiled the scheme at an exhibition in Axminster Guildhall last week.

Company spokesman Roy Amner told The Herald the electricity generated would be sold to Western Power and fed into the local network to supply homes and businesses in and around Axminster.

There would be little maintenance required, no noise and the sun-powered units were able to produce electricity even in the rain.

Mr Churchill said he had to decided to lease the company his land because he considered solar power a much better alternative to nuclear energy. He said the site was naturally well screened and the nearest residents would be a field away from the solar panels.

“Everyone I have spoken to is happy about it,” he said.

At their meeting last week Axminster town councillors agreed that adequate screening was the key issue.

Cllr Brian Watson said they also needed to know where any access roads would be created.

Cllr John Jeffery said a similar solar farm at Beech Grove Farm, near Hawkchurch, had been well hidden.

“When people drive past it they don’t even know it’s there,” he said.

All the visitors at the exhibition, approached by The Herald, said they would be in favour of the farm.

Writing in the comments book, one local resident said: “I would much prefer to live next door to a solar park than to a nuclear or coal fired station…anything to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel. Go for it!”

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