Eric Pickles has taken almost four months to call a public inquiry into solar farm project

Written by Steve Harcourt on .


As a Wroughton resident I am very disappointed that Eric Pickles MP, the Secretary of State for the Environment, has ordered a public inquiry into the proposal to construct a Solar Farm at the Wroughton Science Museum Site.

This is a proposal that was supported by Wroughton Parish Council and which received strong support from local residents, as evidenced by feedback from a public exhibition held at the Ellendune Centre in the spring of 2013 and a survey run through the village social media pages.

The proposal would provide some employment and would bring investment and an ongoing stream of income to the Science Museum site.  It would also provide a significant source of green energy.

It is ironic that you have published an article about the Marlborough Weather Station demonstrating clear evidence of climate change on the same day that you also publish an article about an organisation which claims to be green opposing a solar farm.

The proposal was also supported by Robert Buckland, our local MP.

Local residents, who probably visit, and value, the Ridgeway and Barbury Castle more than anyone else  do not believe that the solar farm would have any significant impact on views from these sites.

I am also surprised at how long the Secretary of State has taken to reach this decision. Swindon Borough Council approved the planning application on the 10 December 2013, and the Secretary of State then had 21 days to 'call in' that decision, but instead wrote to Swindon on the 30 December 2013 instructing them not to grant the Planning Approval, as he needed more time.  

It has now taken nearly four months to decide to hold a public inquiry, rather than the 21 days which is normally allowed.  If this matter had been dealt with quickly, construction of the solar farm would have been nearing completion by now.

Our government is keen to talk about localism, and allowing important decisions to be made at local level, however this is yet another example of central government interfering with local decision making.


Steve Harcourt