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Plans for new solar farm announced

Council proposes solar farm to reduce carbon footprint

Solar panels

Issued on 27 January 2021

A solar farm could be built on land near Grazeley as part of our plans to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help combat climate change.

We're exploring the possibility of a new solar farm as part of our pdf icon Environment Strategy [3Mb] to become carbon neutral by 2030. A feasibility study found a solar farm provides a viable option for clean, green energy which would offset around 30% of our carbon footprint. The figure includes the estimated carbon footprint of key contractors working on our behalf.

Plans for the solar farm will see more than 45,000 solar panels installed on up to 75 acres of land we already own - generating enough electricity each year to power approximately 4,400 homes.   

Funding for the project, which is estimated to cost around £10m, subject to further studies and procurement, and will be included in the capital strategy for Council to approve on the 2nd March 2021. Subject to the approval of funding and planning permission being granted work could start on the site in 2022.

Speaking about the plans Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter, Executive Member for the Environment, said:

"Last year we installed solar on some of our buildings and we are now looking to build on this with the possibility of a new solar farm. It could significantly reduce our carbon footprint with any surplus income available to reinvest in other environmental projects. Our Environment Strategy is something we are absolutely committed to, and this new solar farm is a statement of our intent towards achieving a carbon neutral district by 2030."

Last year we invested over £500,000 to install solar panels on some of our own buildings - including the Market Street offices in Newbury and the Willink School and Leisure Centre in Burghfield Common. The initial six buildings installed with solar panels are expected to generate approaching 400,000KWh per year, saving approximately 90 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Stay up-to-date with plans for the solar farm and other green initiatives by subscribing to our Environment News bulletin at www.westberks.gov.uk/Sign-Up