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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Shropshire Council plans to build its first solar farm

Shropshire Council is planning to build its first ever solar farm to power local businesses in Oswestry with clean energy. 

The proposed solar farm site would be on top of the former landfill site near Maesbury Road and would be largely invisible from surrounding areas.

Should the scheme get planning approval, the council says it would form an important step forward in its goal to help tackle climate change and to be net carbon neutral by 2030.  

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A planning application for the solar farm is due later this year and if approved, the farm will be built in two stages and initially generate 1MW of clean energy at the site by summer 2022.

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 would need around £1 million investment to build and would generate income over a lifespan of 25-30 years to repay the cost of the solar farm and be invested in council services across the county.

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. 

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.” 

The project in Oswestry would be the first of a number of similar schemes on council-owned land across the county.

The money to install the solar farm will be taken from the council’s capital budget – a budget that 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. 

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