Hundreds of people have signed a petition to block a proposed solar farm on the site of a historic Wiltshire tree.

A planning application is due to be submitted “very soon” for a 15MW solar development on One Tree Hill, east of Blounts Court Farm overlooking the village of Potterne.

Residents fear the plans would destroy the site’s picturesque views including those of the tree that has stood on the hill since the 1970s, when it was planted to replace its 165-year-old predecessor.

This comes after the submission of plans for a larger 218-acre solar scheme, at the nearby Potterne Park Farm, by Lighthouse Development Consulting on behalf of Potterne Solar Project Limited.

In response to these two developments residents have come together to form the Potterne Solar Action Group and have launched a campaign and petition to prevent the plans from coming to fruition.

The group says it has formed to safeguard 266 acres of arable land from solar farming and to stop the “industrialisation” of “historic and valued countryside.”

A petition to “save One Tree Hill and Potterne Park from solar farm development” received nearly 700 signatures within three days, while the campaign has also been backed by countryside protection charity CPRE.

South West Farmer: One Tree HillOne Tree Hill (Image: Julie White)

A spokesperson for the group claimed the solar farms would disrupt the picturesque countryside, which is currently used by many walkers, cyclists, and horse riders.

They said: “One Tree Hill has been a meeting place for generations and should remain so.

“The developers propose to erect a 3m-tall fence around the tree, blocking the 360-degree views which we currently enjoy.

“The required security fencing, CCTV, substations, and additional high voltage transformers will create an alien structure and bring noise to an otherwise tranquil and beautiful piece of countryside.

“We support renewable energy. These solar farm proposals are in the wrong place.”

If approved, the One Tree Hill scheme could generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes annually while the 49.9MW Potterne Park Farm development offset around 21,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

A spokesperson for ADAS, who is leading the project on behalf of developer Greenfield, insisted the tree would not be impacted by the scheme.

ADAS has also claimed that all existing landscape features will be retained and maintained.

South West Farmer: One Tree HillOne Tree Hill (Image: Julie White)

A spokesperson said: “We fully appreciate the public interest in our proposed Solar PV development, and we appreciate many people have not had a chance to come to our recent public consultation event.

“We can confirm that the proposed development will ensure the special value that the public has for One Tree Hill will not be diminished.

“The tree will be maintained, the footpaths leading to it will be retained and a special interpretation board with a bench will be erected near to the tree so people can appreciate the special meaning of the tree which stands on our development site.

“The proposed development will be providing significant biodiversity improvements to the area, and would ensure the habitats in and around the site will have an area of land where they can thrive without being impacted by intensive farming.”

ADAS confirmed the planning application for the scheme will be submitted “very soon”.

They urged the public to review the documents to learn about “the significant benefits of this exciting renewable energy development.”

Their spokesperson added: “Everyone has a right to a considered opinion if that opinion is based upon information and facts which have been submitted with the planning application.”

Lighthouse Development Consulting was approached for comment.