Council plans new solar farm to power county business
Shropshire Council is now planning to build its first ever solar farm to power local businesses with clean energy.
The scheme would see a major solar farm on built on a former landfill site in Oswestry.
The scheme, which would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 500 homes, would first require planning approval and, if this is achieved, could be generating green electricity by summer 2022.
It would also form an important step forward in the council’s goal to help tackle climate change, and for the council to be net carbon neutral by 2030.
A planning application for the solar farm is now due later this year. f approved, the farm will be built in two stages and initially generate 1MW of clean energy at the site.
The power generated would then go straight to businesses very close to the site, helping them to reduce both their carbon emissions and running costs.
It is estimated the initial phase of the solar farm would save around 250 tonnes of carbon per year, enough to fill nearly 56 Olympic swimming pools or 1,236 double-decker buses, or the equivalent of 274 return flights from Birmingham to Athens.
Revenue generated from power would be used to repay the cost of the solar farm and be invested in council services to benefit communities across Shropshire.
The proposed solar farm site would be on top of the former landfill site near Maesbury Road, which is located in the middle of the industrial estate off Glovers Road/Maesbury Road in Oswestry, but would be largely invisible from surrounding areas.
It would need around £1 million investment to build and would generate income over a lifespan of 25-30 years.
This project in Oswestry would be the first of a number of similar schemes on council-owned land across the county, as the council works to boost renewable energy generation, and access to it, in Shropshire.
Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, natural assets and the green economy, said:
“We’re committed to driving down our own carbon footprint and helping others to do so. With this scheme, businesses near the site could source energy in a greener way and we put a former landfill site to a really positive use. The scheme over time would pay for itself.
“We know that to hit our target of reaching net-zero carbon by 2030 investment is required, but this is far outweighed by a move away from our reliance on fossil fuels. There are also lots of other longer-term benefits such as using the money we get back to reinvest into services for our residents and businesses.
“A huge amount of work has been done behind the scenes to ‘ready the ship’ for important projects, like this solar farm in Oswestry, to be delivered.
“The road to achieving our ambitions is going to be challenging, but it’s great that this exciting project, the first of many is moving forward.”
For more information, people can visit the website https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/climate-change-and-sustainability/climate-change-strategy/.
The money to install the solar farm will be taken from the council’s capital budget – a budget which is used for things like a major road improvement scheme,or the purchase of significant assets which have a productive value.
This is different to the council’s revenue budget, which is used to fund day to day services; and money from capital budgets cannot by law be used for day to day costs.