Welcome to the Rudloe and environs website.
Here you will find news, articles and photos of an area that straddles the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-west Wiltshire.
Contributions in the form of articles or photos are welcome. Even those with completely contrary views to mine!
Thanks to the website builder 1&1 and Rob Brown for the original idea.
Rudloescene now, in January 2014, has a sister, academic rather than anarchic, website about Box history here: http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/
It contains thoroughly professional, well-researched articles about Box and its people.
Contact rudloescene through the 'Contact' page.
View from Chapel Plaister and Wadswick towards Salisbury Plain. Whilst this view to the south will not change, the northern prospect will be industrialised by a solar park in 2014 if planning permission is granted.
25th October 2017 - Autumnwatch comes to Wadswick. No Chris, Michaela, Martin or Token I'm afraid ... jus' li'l ol' me with Fuji compact.
20th November 2015 - planning application 15/09758/FUL refused
Planning application 15/09758/FUL (see 25th October article below) has been refused by Wiltshire planners - see the refusal notice, dated 18th November 2015, using the button below.
25th October 2015 - new planning application 15/09758/FUL - "Formation of a Soil Planting Margin to Fields to Enable Successful Growth of a Tree Belt to Form Landscape/Ecological Feature"
This planning application from Park Farm, part of Neston Estate, is simply a resubmittal of 15/04309/FUL which, quite rightly, was rejected by Wiltshire planners.
Reason '2' given for refusal of 15/04309/FUL continues to apply to 15/09758/FUL, that is: "The nature of the proposal will result in an negative impact upon the current openness of the site and obscure important views and vistas from Wadswick Lane and therefore have an adverse effect upon the landscape character of the area, contrary to the requirements of the NPPF and Wiltshire Core Policies (adopted 2015) CP51 & CP57".
The photographs in the following gallery show that the 12-mile and more views from Wadswick Lane across the Clay Vale to the Marlborough Downs, Salisbury Plain and into Pewsey Vale are some of the finest in north-west Wiltshire. This mindless, brutish application proposes an act of criminal landscape vandalism for no legitimate reason; rather, the motivation appears to be vindictiveness.
As with the first application, the stated rationale in the Woodland Planting Scheme is specious vis "The woodland needs to fit in with the local landscape" and "The site is fairly exposed with little shelter from the prevailing south-westerly winds" and "The principle (sic) objective is to create shelter in this exposed area and at the same time improve the landscape with a new woodland that compliments (sic) the area".
The stated principal (note) objective is such self-evident nonsense that I can hardly bring myself to reveal its deceit. The land in the lee or shelter of the prevailing south-westerly winds is Barton's land, not that of Park Farm or Neston Estate.
And how could a woodland belt that blocks the marvellous views shown in the gallery below improve the landscape, complement (note) the area and fit in with the local landscape?
The architects (in the non-professional sense) of this scheme must take local people and Wiltshire planners for fools if they believed that this travesty of a planning application would not be exposed as a contrivance.
30th June 2015 - Wiltshire planners, of course, refuse planning application 15/04309/FUL
The planning officer has refused the application for the following reasons: "Although I have requested further information from the agent I have not received a reply or any additional information. Therefore, I will be refusing the application on lack of information/justification, impact upon the landscape and important views and finally on highways grounds as the Highways Officer has objected to the proposal".
Box Parish Council please note!
7th June 2015 - soil margin for tree belt south of Wadswick Lane (planning application 15/04309/FUL)
In planning matters, there are 'relevant issues' which are considered by the planning authorities whilst extraneous (perhaps emotive) concerns are not. So let me give an overarching view of the extraneous, emotive matters first ... this is the most ill-conceived, absurd, self-indulgent, half-baked planning application that I've come across in many a long day. And what is Box Parish Council's view - a blind, thoughtless "No objections"!
Continuing somewhat along the incedental path for the moment, one wonders why now? With the Wadswick Solar Park having finally been approved in December 2014 and now under construction, is it just coincidence that this application arrives with the Council planners in May 2015?
The proposed soil margin and woodland will run for 0.6 km or 0.375 miles along the southern edge of Wadswick Lane thereby completely obliterating the view of the southern landscape from this section of the lane. Much was made both by objectors, and indeed Council planners when the solar park application was under consideration, of the open nature of the landscape along Wadswick Lane. Indeed, the Wiltshire Core Strategy adopted in January 2015, in Core Policy 51, ‘Landscape’ states: “proposals will need to demonstrate that the following aspects of landscape character have been conserved and where possible enhanced through sensitive design, landscape mitigation and enhancement measures”. Item vi. of those “following aspects” is “Important views and visual amenity”. Important to emphasize therefore that this proposal will obscure, for a length of 0.6 km, one of the finest views across the Clay Vale into Pewsey Vale and towards Salisbury Plain that can be had in north-west Wiltshire. And again Box Parish Council avowed "No objections" - unbelievable! Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them ..." comes to mind.
The new 'educational area' of Wadswick Solar Park, shown in the photograph above, will not only give teachers the opportunity to enlighten children on the energy situation (a balanced view, hopefully) but, given its position and the nature of the 'seats' (see photos in the 1st June article below), will enable lessons in geology and landscape. The view here, appreciated for generations by walkers, riders and cyclists, across the Jurassic Clay Vale to the Cretaceous Salisbury Plain is of quintessentially English landscape and geological history and should not, must not be obliterated. And Box Parish Council ...
Returning to the ill-conceived, half-baked, self-indulgent nature of this application, one can conjecture that the real, unstated reason for the application and its timing is the supposed 'blot on the landscape' of the new solar park. The Fuller estate (one can conjecture) wishes to make a statement about the view north-west from Neston Park. In fact, I would say that the solar park arrays cannot be seen from Neston Park House (I would welcome a tour to confirm this view) as the lie of the land and intervening dry stone walls deny such a view. In any case, the proposed solar park miscanthus screen will provide!
And the supporting documents - Gordon Bennett! The Woodland Planting Scheme: "the woodland needs to fit in with the local landscape", "the site is fairly exposed with little shelter from the prevailing south-westerly winds", "to create some shelter in this open and exposed part of the farm", "the proposal is to establish an area of woodland to create some shelter in this open and exposed part of the farm", "the principal objective is to create shelter in this exposed area and at the same time improve the landscape with a new woodland that compliments (!sic) the area". There are many more 'issues' with this document but let's just stick with these. Perhaps not easy to determine from the drawing 'Site Location Plan' provided with the application (see below) but the land to the north and east of the
proposed tree belt (in other words in the lee or shelter of the trees) is Barton's land, the site of the solar park! So the "principal objective" is worthless as is most of the other verbiage such as "needs to fit in with the local landscape" - the wide, open landscape with southerly and easterly 12-mile views - that landscape? I despair, and Box Parish Council ...
1st June 2015 - the Wadswick solar park, planning application 14/03084/FUL
Following the about-face from Wiltshire Council planners and in spite of objections from many local people (including yours truly), the Wadswick solar park is coming on apace.
As this is a fait accompli, we will now have to look to the future and accentuate the positive (borrowing a line from a Johnny Mercer song):
I appreciate that many local people (Lower Wadswick, Baker's Corner, Wadswick) will still have robust views about the park but my sentiment has mellowed somewhat regarding the finished product (but not about the utility of solar parks or their economics). Certainly, the northern view from Wadswick Lane is foreshortened (compare the photo above with the photo in the 18th September 2014 article) but the park is now far enough back from Wadswick Lane to be much less obtrusive in the northern landscape than originally proposed - the farm silos and the trees of Kingsmoor Wood still define the skyline. I don’t think the proposed miscanthus screening will improve the vista much – personally I would prefer to see some sort of native, perhaps blackthorn or mixed, hedging here perhaps cut biennially to screen the solar panels whilst still showing the skyline trees.
30th December 2014 - solar park approved
It seems that the planners are satisfied that the 'conditions' have been or will be met so the Wadswick solar park has received full planning approval - see the relevant page from Wilts Council Planning Decisions document below:
Application Number: 14/03084/FUL
Site Location: Land East of Manor Farm Wadswick Box Corsham Wiltshire SN13 8JB
Grid Ref: 384505 167922
Proposal: Construction of 6.3MW Solar PV Park with Transformer Housings, Security Fencing & Cameras,
Landscaping & Other Associated Works (Resubmission of 13/04055/FUL)
Case Officer: Chris Marsh Direct Line: 01249 706657
Registration Date: 18/03/2014
Decision: Approve with Conditions
Decision Date: 23/12/2014
The full document 'Planning Applications Determined for the week ending 26/12/2014' is here:
So, I had better get over to Wadswick Lane and take further pictures of our beloved countryside whilst I can -before its industrialisation. A picture taken some fifteen years ago follows:
5th October 2014 - conditions for development of solar park to be put before the Northern Area Planning Committee this Wednesday, 8th October 2014, at 3 o'clock
The conditions for development are shown in the file 'link' at the end of this article. It is ironic that the conditions are prefaced by the committee's resolution to grant permission as follows:
"The proposed development, by reason of its siting, appearance and local perception, will conserve the character and appearance of the site and its setting and by extension will not compromise the enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB or local built heritage, such that any harm associated with the proposal is outweighed by its benefits and support in principle."
This performs a complete about turn from the Case Officer's statement published in the 6th July 2014 rudloescene article and repeated below the following picture.
"The proposed development, by reason of its siting, scale, amount and appearance, will detrimentally alter the character and appearance of the site and its setting in terms of both immediate visual amenity and of the wider landscape, as well as the setting and enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB and local built heritage".
The file 'link' to Wilts CC's conditions for solar park approval follows:
18th September 2014. Result today! Not Scottish independence (yet) but Committee decision on solar park.
The Northern Area Planning Committee met last night to decide, inter alia, on the latest plan for the projected Wadswick solar park. Bizarrely, in spite of objections from scores of local people, Corsham Civic Society, CPRE and MP James Gray along with rejection by Box Parish Council, Corsham Town Council and the Planning Officer's recommendation for refusal, Planning Committee members voted by a majority to approve the application!
The Planning Committee process is, thereby, revealed to be a sham. Imagine, if you will, Scottish independence being decided not by the popular vote of the people but by an Independence Committee which is biased towards independence. The result, clearly, would not be fair or democratic.
A situation such as this obtains with Planning Committees. For example, Councillor Whalley of Corsham who sits on the Northern Area Planning Committee must appreciate the strength of local opposition to the solar park and, of course, must accept his own Town Council's rejection of this application. Yet whose view does he proffer at the Northern Area Committee? Not that of the majority of local people nor that of Corsham Town Council, but his own unrepresentative view. Similarly the local (Box) member of the Planning Committee who could and should have been representing the views of local people and Box Parish Council was conspicuous in her silence and her vote in favour of the application! Right - No! Democratic - No!
Others voting in favour were not local, Wadswick or Neston or Box or Corsham people but were from Chippenham, Wootton Bassett, Malmesbury etc. These people don't bring to the table an abiding view of Box Parish life; they don't walk or cycle Wadswick Lane as I (for example) have done for the past forty years.
It is also interesting to note the following comments made by the County Landscape and Design Officer with regard to another planning application at Manor Farm; that is a second proposed access to the Wadswick Green development (14/04012/FUL): "The reason for these fundamental concerns is that over recent years I consider that the continual erosion and loss of valued landscape character and urbanisation through piecemeal and incremental development is continuing to occur within the Manor Farm land holding at Wadswick. This latest proposal represents further erosion of existing countryside character, which is identified as an issue within the relevant landscape character assessments. I do not see how this proposal could be viewed as sustainable development."
Mr Barton, the applicant, who I know and respect, has said to me on a number of occasions that he would prefer to run Manor Farm/Wadswick without subsidies. Well let me challenge him to take forward this undertaking of the Wadswick solar park without subsidies. Let us see how much he has to charge the projected local users for his unsubsidised solar power. I think that Wadswick Green would soon revert to base supply! If taxpayers/domestic bill-payers did not foot the bill, solar parks would never see the light of day.
10th September 2014 - revised solar park application 14/03084/FUL goes to the Area Planning Committee next week
The text below is extracted from a Wilts County Council letter dated 11th September (but attached to an email dated 8th September).
"Planning application 14/03084/FUL will be determined at the Northern Area Planning Committee on 17th September.
The Planning Committee provides the opportunity for members of the public to attend and express their views on planning applications or specific items on the agenda.
The meetings start at 6:00 pm (offices open at 5:15pm) and are held in the Council Chamber at The Council Offices, Monkton Park, Chippenham (up Monkton Hill).
If you would like to register to speak, contact Elizabeth Beale on 01225 718214. If you require any further information, contact Chris Marsh on 01249 706657."
Wadswick residents have produced a leaflet, attached below, which urges opponents of the scheme to attend the meeting.
6th July 2014 - the proposed solar park
"The proposed development, by reason of its siting, scale, amount and appearance, will detrimentally alter the character and appearance of the site and its setting in terms of both immediate visual amenity and of the wider landscape, as well as the setting and enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB and local built heritage"
1st July 2014 - more on the power situation
The following is taken from an article in today's Times. It talks about our energy infrastructure being dangerously close to failure (to supply all energy requirements) over winter 2015/16. Governments have consistently failed to plan for the succession in base supply - coal, gas and nuclear. It comes to something when the fifth largest economy in the world has effectively failed in providing its citizens with the power required for 21st-century life.
What about solar PV then? Well, you won't see solar mentioned at all in the article because if and when the balloon goes up during the long winters (being pessimistic here) of 2014/15 and 2015/16, solar panels will lie useless in their parks for 16 hours a day (i.e. nighttime) and even during the day, at 51.5 degrees north they will still be relatively useless and even when they are providing input to the grid, base supply will have to be switched out thus making planning base supply more problematic and expensive. Note that the article says that "National Grid has set up a reserve of back-up power plants" - these will be coal or gas or diesel because these are the sources, along with nuclear, that generate our base supply. Solar PV is a worthless, Cinderella confusion when the going gets tough.
"The lamps may not be going out all over Britain but they may be a little dimmer over winter as power generators battle to avert blackouts.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, warned yesterday that emergency action may need to be taken over the winter 2015-16 when Britain faces its biggest supply crunch for a generation.
National Grid is standing by to reduce the voltage passing through the electricity network to keep the system working when power demand is at its highest.
This would result in lights being automatically dimmed in homes and businesses across the country. It is the first time the regulator has raised the spectre of the lights coming close to going out.
The regulator cautioned that the emergency measure would be needed only on very cold days when demand for electricity soars and under certain scenarios.
For example, National Grid may be forced to take action on windless days when the Britain’s growing fleet of wind turbines are out of action.
The grid may not be able to cope if a severe cold snap in Britian coincided with cold weather in Europe which would stop the flow of electricity imports coming to the UK, it added.
Under these circumstances, Ofgem said that lights would have to be dimmed for up to nine hours in total over the course of the winter.
Rachel Fletcher, a senior partner at Ofgem, tried to reassure households: “They may see a slight dimming of their lights, but nothing dramatic at all.”
National Grid has introduced two emergency schemes to help to keep the lights on over the next two winters.
It has set up a reserve of back-up power plants to fire up if needed and will also pay businesses generous subsidies, funded by levies on consumer bills, to turn down machinery during peak demand. The grid operator will reduce the voltage on the network by dimming lights only if these two schemes do not work.
Britain faces its biggest supply crunch threat in the winter of 2015-16 as old coal and gas plants close and because too few new plants are being built.
Ofgem has warned previously that the spare generating margin — the cushion of extra electricity supply above demand — will fall to as low as 2 per cent in that winter.
This means that if a large coal or nuclear power plant suddenly broke down, National Grid would have to step in and take emergency measures."
30th June 2014 - solar park update
In spite of the fact that the revised plan is not substantially different from the original, Wilts County Council planners are now prevaricating. The original reason for refusal: "The proposed development, by reason of its siting, scale, amount and appearance, will detrimentally alter the character and appearance of the site and its setting in terms of both immediate visual amenity and of the wider landscape, as well as the setting and enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB and local built heritage" cannot have changed.
The photo shows "the setting", "visual amenity" and "wider landscape" yet the planning officer now states: "I am yet to settle on a final recommendation on the scheme. However, due to the substantial amount of public interest on both sides, I have agreed with the local Member that the application should go to Committee irrespective of whether it is recommended for approval or refusal, in the interests of transparency. I hope to get it to the meeting of 16 July".
A Times article today (30th June) states that "developers are rushing to beat the deadline of next April when the government plans to end guaranteed subsidies ... Figures suggest that the government is failing to fulfil its pledge to shift solar panels away from fields onto factory rooftops. Greg Barker, the energy minister said: 'I do not want to see unrestricted growth of solar farms in the British countryside'. Many farmers have switched to farming sunshine rather than crops because the existing solar subsidy scheme can earn them £1,000 per acre per year for 25 years. Large solar farms receive £101 million a year in subsidies and this will rise to £254 million once those with planning permission are built, according to an analysis of government figures by the Renewable Energy Foundation which opposes subsidies".
So, according to these figures, Wadswick's 14-hectare (34-acre) solar park will receive £850,000 in green subsidies over its life. Yes folks, that's energy consumers giving Wadswick nearly a million quid in green subsidies. However, one has to be careful as the subsidy situation is a bit of a minefield. According to an international solar energy organisation (Sunstroom) with an office in Swindon, "A one acre solar park in the UK (subject to individual site conditions) can support approximately 100 kW of capacity, typically generating approximately £30,000 per annum". This figure gives Wadswick £30,000 x 34 (acres) x 25 (years) - so £10.5 million. That's not quite as much as the £16 million calculated in the analysis of Wadswick Solar Park in my initial objection - see the 20th October 2013 article (with link to the objection) below.
Anyway, whatever the current subsidy, solar parks are gravy trains for landowners and a drain on the finances of domestic bill-payers.
19th April 2014 - solar park consultation date extended
The deadline for comments on the revised solar park plans (14/03084/FUL) has been extended from Thursday 17th April to Tuesday 6th May. This is, apparently, to allow English Heritage to assemble its observations. Others may, of course, also send comments.
All documents associated with the application may be viewed by entering the application number shown above at the Wilts CC planning webpages.
The author's objection may be found through the file 'link' shown at the foot of this article. This second objection should really be read in conjunction with the first objection, the link for which can be found at the foot of the 20th October 2013 article.
MP James Gray's thoughts about solar parks, the ex-HMS Royal Arthur site and Network Rail's works in Wiltshire associated with the electrification of the London-Bristol main line are given in his 17th April Gazette & Herald column, the 'link' for which is here:
26th March 2014 – revised solar park plans submitted
Submitted some time ago actually – the revised planning application is 14/03084/FUL. The link to the Wilts County Council planning webpage is given at the foot of this article.
The landowner stated in an email of 19th February, that: "the number of panels in the revised scheme to generate 6.3mW will be in the region of 26,000 panels".
However, the new Design and Access Statement states: "there would be approximately 34,000 solar panels". I don't know why this says "would" and not "will" but anyway, even basic figures do not add up here. In a phone call regarding the initial application, the park developer stated that the rating of each panel is 240W and the park output can be calculated by multiplying the number of panels (now 34,000) by this rating which gives a figure of 8.16mW, not the 6.3mW stated in the new application.
The total area of the park, at 14 hectares (20 football pitches) has not changed. In my view and the views of the scores of other objectors to the initial application, a solar park is wholly inappropriate in Wadswick Lane.
It is as important, if not more so, to object to this revised application as to the first as the wily developers will use a reduction in objections as an indication that the revised plan is more acceptable.
The Wilts CC planning pages link is here:
Enter the application number given above to see all related documents. Objections can be made until Thursday 17 April 2014.
15th February 2014 - revised solar park plans (*see below for update)
The 9th February article below states that the landowner, agent and developer have revised plans for the solar park. However, the developer (Brilliant Harvest of Bruton) states that it has not been involved with the new plan which is shown in the two files below.
On first reading, there appear to be some 'issues'. A fundamental one is that the revised plan reduces the park output (size) from 9.6mW to 6.3mW but there does not appear to have been a corresponding reduction in the number of solar panels. In order to achieve the output reduction, the original number of panels would have to be reduced from 40,052 to 26,284, however this scale of reduction is not apparent with the new plan. The agent and landowner have promised to resolve this query on Monday (17th Feb).*
In addition, the new plan states that the height of the solar panels has been reduced from 3m to 2.3m but the height of the panels in the original plan was 2.3m.
*The landowner has today, 19th February, stated: "I can confirm that the number of panels in the revised scheme to generate 6.3mW will be in the region of 26,000 panels".
9th February 2014 - revised solar park proposal
RB & T Barton (the landowner)/Brilliant Harvest (the enabler & constructor)/Pegasus Group (the agent) have revised plans for the proposed solar park at Wadswick. The original plan was refused planning permission by Wilts CC on 18th December 2013 - see 12th January 2014 article below and previous articles.
According to the landowner, the revised plan reduces the size of the park by 30%. A public exhibition of the new proposal will be held at Manor Farm, Wadswick on Wednesday 12th February 2014 from 3pm to 8pm.
Just using this 'news' to also show the beech at Thorneypits that was blown down during the 25th January storm (see the 'News', 'Boxfields'' page) after standing here for, probably, the best part of 250 years. There are quite a number of pictures of this beech, over the years, on the 'Localities', 'Thorneypits' page.
12th January 2014 - application for solar park refused
Old news but as I'm updating the website for the hunt below, I should give the latest news on the solar park.
Planning application 13/04055/FUL from RB & T Barton Ltd for a 14-hectare solar park at Manor Farm was refused by local planners on the grounds given in the Notification of Refusal dated 18th December 2013.
The notification, to be found in the 'link' below, includes the following:
The proposed development, by reason of its siting, scale, amount and appearance, will detrimentally alter the character and appearance of the site and its setting in terms of both immediate visual amenity and of the wider landscape, as well as the setting and enjoyment of the Cotswolds AONB and local built heritage.
11th January 2014 - Avon Vale Hunt at Wadswick
An esoteric Avon Vale hunt gathered at Wadswick in the afternoon of 11th January (the Avon Vale Hunt’s ‘Events’ webpage returns: “Sorry, we don’t have any current events listed at the moment”).
I could be easily identified as an outsider by my attire – not barbour, other wax jacket or tweed, and so was approached by a gentleman from a principal group with the question: “Are you a supporter or anti?” I could, of course, have asked “anti what?” but just responded that I “was with the underdog”. The discerning reader will be able to make much of that short conversation. The gentleman returned to his group and a short while later, a mounted MFH (red coat) took a movie pointing in my direction.
A former colleague (a German) was a jagermeister (a hunt master) in Germany and was scornful of English hunting. I can still recall his rhetoric: “Zoze people in zehr red coats viz zehr silly horns unt zehr kvod bikes. Scorz of follovers on horzeback viz a pack of hounds szree times a veek. Hav zey nussing better to do. If vee hef a problem viz a fox, vee shoot it.” He would too along with anything else that got in the way. This, of course, was in the days when hunting with hounds was legal (irony here).
7th December 2013 - demo against solar park
Locals were out in force to protest about the proposed 14-hectare solar park at Wadswick.
The day was as dull as any at this time of year and at this latitude thus being almost fruitless for a solar park. And come 4pm until 8am tomorrow, the park will be a useless abomination. After its working life of 25 years it will be dismantled leaving no trace of its existence and no permanent contribution to our energy infrastructure.
The advantage? An estimated £16 million into the pockets of the landowner and the park developer.
Wadswick Lane - a former drovers' road
The Lane is threatened with industrialisation by the landowner's proposal for a 14-hectare solar park which would be located to the north of Wadswick Lane (the left of the picture). Our pastoral landscape is under attack on many fronts in 2013 in the west Corsham area at Wadswick, Rudloe and Pickwick.
The author's 6-page objection to the park can be found in the link 'My objection to the solar park' below.
20th October 2013 - proposed solar 'park' at Wadswick
A 'reader' has asked me to publicise planning application 13/04055/FUL for a 14 hectare solar 'park' at Wadswick - the application can be found at the Wiltshire County Council's web page shown at the bottom of this article - enter the application number in the box provided. Comments or objections must be received by Thursday 31st October. To use the old football pitch analogy, 14 hectares is about 20 football pitches - a not inconsiderable blot on the landscape. As with the Great Wall of China and Belgium at night, Wadswick Solar Park may be visible from space. Wadswick residents' flyer with an 'artist's impression' of the park can be found in the .pdf file below and my objection is below also.
The photograph was taken just after mid-day today, 20th October, and over to the south, the lights were on in Melksham (seen through my x32 lens) - that's what you get at 51.5 degrees north in October! As Jim Royle would say: "solar park my ****".