Weekly Column

Kate and Solar

Project Hero ImageProject Hero Image


There was something deeply moving about the stoic dignity and bravery of the Princess of Wales’s statement to the Nation about her cancer. No sentimentality; no panic; no self-misery. She just sat there all alone and spoke clearly and sensibly about the treatment she is now facing. And as always she gave thought to others in the same plight. The King shows the same fortitude, keeping up as many engagements as he can through his treatment. Calm security in the face of adversity – how very brave, how very British. What an example to us all (and to various other members of their family.) I know that all of my constituents will join me in sending HRH our very best wishes- nay, love- for her treatment and we will look forward to a speedy and total recovery.

Much of my weekend was devoted to the early stages of what will I know be a massive campaign against the unwanted solar farm over 2000 acres of sacred grassland, and a further similar acreage of land needed for the connection to the Grid. And I was impressed by the calmly professional determination of those who are to help run the campaign against it. I am certain- and determined- that we will get it stopped. But that will not be without a great effort by all concerned.

Amongst other things I was the first to alert the local community to it; wrote and circulated what I hope you will agree was a very strongly worded Column of objection (you can see it on my website, jamesgray.org if you missed it); wrote to all three relevant Secretaries of State in the strongest possible terms; attended both local (and totally bogus) ‘consultations' so far - in Sherston and Hullavington - and will try to look into as many others as I can. When I challenged the innocent PR professionals about the meaning of their so-called ‘Consultation’, the conversation went as follows: Me: “If you encounter 100% opposition will you scrap the plans?” Them: “Er, no, we are just consulting about the details of the design.” Me: “Well I’m not interested in the design- I want to keep the green fields green.” I suspect that the entry in their notebook summary read: “MP totally opposed and very difficult.”

By way of further action, I will in the coming days launch a Parliamentary petition and apply for a Parliamentary debate on the matter; and will consider how/when/where to hold a public meeting to record people’s strength of feeling about it (and if they come, listen courteously to any who might be in favour.) Our line of argument must be that we are concerned about Climate Change and support the Net Zero 2050 target; that we recognise the need for renewable energy to achieve it; but that Wiltshire having already achieved our targeted contribution, this application is an unnecessary outrage. To those who will seek to use this campaign to oppose solar energy or Net Zero in a wider way, or who may seek to hijack it for their own political or other objectives, I would just caution that we will not win any such wider battle; and that if we were to do so we may in fact undermine the strength of our particular arguments differentiating this awful application from others elsewhere (especially on rooftops, brownfield land and so on). There are special and particular reasons why we are so opposed and will leave no stone unturned to make them clear.

Incidentally, I hold no animus against the Badminton Estate nor the smaller farmers and tenants who would lease out their land for the project. £1000 an acre for 40 years is better than farming. So I will spare no effort in trying to get it stopped, but hope to remain good friends with them even if I do!

Our campaign must be dignified, intellectually well argued, moderate in language, but nonetheless totally determined. We can perhaps follow the quiet dignity coupled with gritty determination of HRH Princess Kate.

Column Information
Client Icon
James Gray
Location Icon
This is some text inside of a div block.
Date Icon
Published Date
March 22, 2024