Villagers back solar farm plan

File photo dated 04/09/13 of solar panels at Rudge Manor Solar Farm near Marlborough, Wiltshire. George Osborne will make a pitch to ordinary working people today when he delivers his penultimate Budget before the general election.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 19, 2014. See PA BUDGET stories. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire
File photo dated 04/09/13 of solar panels at Rudge Manor Solar Farm near Marlborough, Wiltshire. George Osborne will make a pitch to ordinary working people today when he delivers his penultimate Budget before the general election. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 19, 2014. See PA BUDGET stories. Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

A clear divide has emerged in how community groups in the Kells and Connor district have reacted to plans for a massive solar farm in the area.

Up until this week, the issue-focused VOCAL group has lobbied against the proposed installation - which could, if approved be one of the biggest in the UK. VOCAL, which was formed when the plans became public, insists it represents the people most directly affected by the plan and is adamant that it should be refused. They have also accused Elgin Energy, the firm behind the proposals, of refusing to inter-act with them and of deliberately staging ‘inconvenient’ meetings on the topic in Galgorm.

However, a radically different position has been adopted by the long established Kells and Connor Community Improvement Association.

In a statement released in the wake of their committee meeting, the Association said Elgin had been open with them and had answered every question put to them about the scheme.

The statement said: “We welcome the idea of renewable energy and we see it as the way forward in meeting energy needs and dealing with climate change. We already have wind farms nearby and we see that the proposed Solar Farm would be complementary to them.

“This large Solar Farm would have a big impact on meeting government targets for renewable energy and Kells & Connor would be part of that so we see that as a positive. We realise that there are some concerns about how the Elgin scheme would look and how it will be managed and we have raised these with the company over a few meetings.

“They have been open with us, answered any questions we have and given our ideas a fair hearing. They have assured us that there is no danger to children or animals and that the panels will be within the fields behind the hedges and trees that already exist, and they will plant extra trees and grasses to make sure visibility of the solar farm will be kept to a minimum. As a result of our meetings with them the Association welcomes Solar and feels that it would be a positive development for the local area.”