The 40MW solar farm proposed for Wroughton Airfield in Swindon called in by secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles has received the go-ahead – less than two weeks before this year’s ROC deadline.

The Department for Communites and Local Government wrote to the farm’s developers – the Science Museum Group and Public Power Solutions (PPS), formerly Swindon Commercial Services – to inform them of the approval yesterday.

“The Secretary of State concludes that the development would make a significant contribution to achieving the UK’s renewable energy target; assist in alleviating climate change; and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“He has taken account of the fact that the site is brownfield land which cannot be regarded, in its own right, to be of high environmental value and, overall, having regard to the terms of the Framework, concludes that the balance lies in favour of the renewable energy scheme,” the approval stated.

The approval comes just two weeks before the UK’s 1.4 ROC deadline at the end of this month, however PPS commercial director James Owen confirmed to Solar Power Portal that development of the site will fall in the 1.3 ROC grace period.

This will give the firm 12 months to complete the site from the date planning was issued, however Owen said PPS intended to have the site up and running “sooner rather than later” and hinted towards it being completed before the year’s end.

“We’re remarkable happy to finally receive approval, and we’re pleased to see the decision has gone to the weight of public opinion,” he added.

Wroughton Airfield was first proposed more than two years ago and at the time the project would’ve been the largest in the UK, however the two developers have faced a protracted battle to get it up and running.

Despite winning planning consent in December 2013 the project was called in for a public inquiry by Pickles five months later, and it wasn’t until September 2014 that the site’s case was heard.