The well preserved Roman village of Silchester which is ‘one of England’s most important ancient monuments’ is under threat from plans to build a solar farm the size of 120 football pitches in the countryside next to it.
The ‘enormous’ stretch of solar panels would dwarf the Hampshire site which is home to ruins, a bathhouse, and the remains of an amphitheatre – and will be so large it is double the size of Vatican City. Building the 210-acre farm just a stone’s throw from Silchester would mean the historical site is ‘lost to future research’, Roman Britain expert Professor Michael Gordon Fulford CBE warned.
It is believed there are still discoveries to be made in the surrounding areas of the site, but a massive ‘industrial plant’ would prevent them being uncovered. Prof Fulford is one of more than 675 people to object to the plans, with furious locals from Silchester and neighbouring village Bramley launching a campaign group.
Campaigners, which include the area’s Conservative MP, say it will be an ‘eyesore’ and blight the open countryside, which is cherished for its picturesque views and wildlife.
Popular walking trails, which run by the Silchester Roman ruins, will be transformed into ‘man-made corridors’ which offer countryside views through 6ft metal fences, campaigners say.
On Saturday around 60 of the campaigners with large banners turned out for a protest march along one of the walking trails and shouted ‘save our heritage’.
Two campaigners turned out in full Roman outfits.
On Wednesday, the site’s fate will be decided by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council planning committee. Council planners have advised the solar farm is approved.
The plans were submitted by Bramley Solar Ltd, a subsidiary of energy firm Enso Energy.