James Gray welcomes solar statement

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"Having campaigned long and hard against unsuitable solar farms across Wiltshire, I am delighted by this morning's announcement from Energy Secretary, Claire Coutinho.

I am pleased that she will strengthen the argument which I and so many in this campaign have been raising against using good agricultural land for solar energy, and the need for food security. The Minister's statement accepts our arguments that solar should first and foremost be on brownfield sites, in discreet locations, and of course on roof tops. The agricultural land proposed for Lime Down solar park would definitely now be inappropriate.

The Minister's statement also puts into planning law the ability of local authorities and the Planning Inspector to consider the cumulative effect of solar on a county or local area. Wiltshire already has 54 solar farms covering 3000 acres either under construction or in operation, which makes us one of the largest clusters of solar farms anywhere in the world. I am therefore confident that Wiltshire Council and the Planning Inspector will take that into account when considering any new applications like Lime Down.

The campaign against Lime Down has been a huge community effort. From the 750 people that attended my public meeting in Malmesbury Town Hall, through to the letter writing and petitioning, poster and leaflet campaigns - local people have come together to oppose what would have been a monstrous carbuncle in the middle of our Wiltshire countryside. It would also have meant an 20-mile connection to an unsightly battery park near Melksham. I very much hope that the developers will see the error of their ways and withdraw this application which now has a diminishing likelihood of success."