County council backs plans for £10million solar farm

Cambridgeshire County Council.

Cambridgeshire County Council. - Credit: Archant

An agreement was reached this week to press ahead with plans for a £10 million taxpayer-owned solar farm on agricultural land in Soham.

Triangle Farm, in Great Drove, has been earmarked as the home for the 60-acre facility, which could produce enough energy to power 3,000 homes and generate thousands of pounds of revenue for Cambridgeshire County Council.

The quality of the land at Triangle Farm was rated by the council as Grade 3, placing it “at the lower end of land quality in Cambridgeshire” and thus making it suitable, the council said, for redevelopment as a solar farm.

On Tuesday, county councillors instructed officials to draw up an investment plan, detailing how much the solar farm would cost to install and how much it was expected to return on the investment.

If the investment plan proves the project viable, and the county council expects it produce a seven per cent annual return, the authority will sign the contracts to begin construction work.

But the county council will need to act fast, as it has received an offer of a £700,000 grant from the EU and it must be able to prove that it has found use for the funds by the end of August.

In a report to the committee, Roger Moore, head of strategic assets at the county council, said: “The project will cost in the region of £10m and is anticipated to produce a return of about seven per cent per annum. Funding is allocated in the council’s budget on this basis.”

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Mr Moore added that the council had “high confidence” in achieving value for money in the project.

When the plans were first unveiled, late last year, the county council said it intended to keep the panels in place for a period of 25 years – but that period could be extended if the Government subsidy for producing the electricity is extended.