The Shropshire Council plans to build its very first solar farm to supply local businesses in Oswestry with clean energy.
The proposed solar park site would be on top of the old landfill site near Maesbury Road and would be largely invisible from surrounding areas.
If the project gets planning approval, the council said it would be an important step forward in its goal of helping tackle climate change and being carbon neutral by 2030.
A planning request for the solar farm is expected later this year and if approved, the farm will be built in two stages and will initially generate 1 MW of clean energy at the site by summer 2022.
The electricity produced would then go directly to businesses very close to the site, helping them to reduce both their carbon emissions and their operating costs.
Its construction would require an investment of around Â£ 1million and generate income over a 25-30 year lifespan to pay off the cost of the solar farm and be invested in municipal services across the county.
It is estimated that 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, equivalent to 274 round-trip flights from Birmingham to Athens.
Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Natural Assets and the Green Economy, said:
âWe are committed to reducing our own carbon footprint and helping others to do so. With this program, companies near the site could source their energy in a greener way and we made really positive use of an old landfill. The scheme over time would pay off.
âWe know that to achieve our goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2030 investments are needed, but this is more than offset by a shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels. There are many other long-term benefits as well, such as using the money we collect to reinvest in services for our residents and businesses.
âA tremendous amount of work has gone behind the scenes to ‘get the ship ready’ for important projects, like this solar farm in Oswestry, to be delivered.
âThe road to realizing our ambitions is going to be difficult, but it’s great that this exciting project, the first in a series of others, is moving forward. ”
The Oswestry project would be the first of a number of similar projects on council-owned land across the county.
The money to install the solar farm will be taken from the city council’s capital budget – a budget that is used for things like a major road improvement program or the purchase of important assets that have productive value. .
This is different from 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 current spending.