Council To Consider Publicly Funded Solar Farm Proposals

Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet, will meet to consider proposals to put forward plans for a publicly funded solar farm to be built on land at Wheat Leasows.

The Council has made a commitment to move towards a more sustainable financial position to help offset government cuts.

The Cabinet will discuss the project as a part of its strategy to find new ways of bringing income in that can help to protect the frontline services that the Council provides.

The proposal which will go before Cabinet is to develop a commercial-scale solar farm of approximately 5MW capacity on Council-owned land.

If agreed at Cabinet the solar farm would be made up of more than 20,000 panels on a site of 12.2 hectares which would generate enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes.

The cost of building the solar would be approximately £6m and could generate as much as £5m surplus during the 25 year life of the project.

The solar farm would form a part of the Council's wider energy strategy to aid a reduction in its carbon footprint which includes improving energy efficiency and energy generation in Council buildings.

The Wellington Civic and Leisure Centre is one of the first buildings in the country to make use of ground source heat (pipes buried in the ground that extract heat), photo voltaics (roof-mounted solar panels) and solex power (solar heating system). The Council is planning to include similar features in the new Hub building at Southwater.

If the scheme is supported by the Council's Cabinet at next week's meeting, there will be a formal consultation process prior to any planning application.

If the project were to proceed, this would be only the second Council-run solar farm in the UK. There is currently another Council-run solar farm in Cornwall.

Councillor Shaun Davies, Telford & Wrekin's Cabinet member with responsibility for Commercial Strategy & Economic Projects, said: "This project demonstrates our commitment to show community leadership and to be a greener council.

"We hope that these proposals will help to secure funding for future services but will also help to secure local energy.

"If these proposals are successful at Cabinet next week, the next step will be to carry out pre-planning assessments and to prepare and submit a planning application for the solar farm.

"We've already started talking with local residents and we will continue to consult with them and the wider community extensively throughout any planning process to ensure that all views are considered."

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