Rochdale Council considers publically owned solar farm

Rochdale Borough Council could develop the UK’s first publically owned solar farm in an attempt to become Britain’s greenest local authority.

Councillors have green-lit plans for officers to look into the benefits of installing a 250kW ground-mounted solar array on council-owned land.

The Council has earmarked a one acre site of contaminated land behind the town’s leisure centre to host the array.

Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Peter Williams, cabinet member for economic development and customer services, said: "We’re leading the way as a 'green' authority and this solar farm could not only bring in revenue for the authority but help us become more energy self-sufficient in the future in a time where fuel bills are on the rise.

"Options for this site are limited, due to its former use as a waste disposal site and contamination present, so a solar farm would allow the council to turn this land from a liability to a productive asset."

The council currently consumes around 27.5GWh of electricity every year, at an expense of £2.8 million last year. Rochdale’s carbon reduction commitment tax bill alone in 2012 was £339,000. In an attempt to curb its emissions as well its energy costs, the council has agreed to a 48% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020.

Colin Lambert, leader of Rochdale Borough Council explained why the council is looking to harvest its own sources of renewable energy. He said: "We face some serious challenges including global warming, climate change, energy and resource depletion. These require us to develop some imaginative solutions in tough economic times."

Rochdale hopes that, if the business case proves viable, the solar scheme can be replicated across the council, generating new multi-million pound revenue streams from renewable energy projects installed throughout the council.