We Shall Never Surrender, Sunshine

  • Date: 08/12/13
  • James Gillespie, The Sunday Times

A GREAT-GRANDSON of Winston Churchill is leading a battle to save his corner of the English countryside from solar farm developers.

Jack Churchill fears big solar farms will spoil the countryside around Seend

Jack Churchill fears big solar farms will spoil the countryside around Seend (Adrian Sherratt/Carlos Barria)

Jack Churchill, 38, has launched the Wake Up Wiltshire campaign in his home village of Seend. It is situated near farmland where energy firms want to erect hundreds of solar panels, including one solar farm that would be the largest in Britain.

“Within five miles of our hilltop village we have 505 [solar] acres now that are constructed, in planning or proposed,” Churchill said. “There is something of a goldrush happening in our area.”

Seend, midway between Devizes and Trowbridge, was a refuge for the author Virginia Woolf who frequently stayed at Cleeve House, her sister’s home, and who wrote about the village in her diaries.

Applications for six solar sites around the village have been submitted. One, the smallest at just over 10 acres, has already been built, permission has been granted for another 70-acre site and the other four are at various stages of the planning process. If they were all given approval they would affect the views from the site of the Civil War battlefield at Roundway Down.

“A lot of east Wiltshire is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty [AONB] and it’s harder for developers to put in applications to use farmland in this way,” Churchill said.

“Our area of Wiltshire is still incredibly beautiful but it is not an AONB. If all the solar farms get built around here, it will change from a mostly green area to a blue one.”

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