Although plans for some of the large-scale solar parks in the UK are going ahead, not all are so optimistic. A solar park intended to be installed on the outskirts of Weymouth is now on hold as the company responsible for developing it waits to hear the results of the fast-track feed-in tariff review.
Engineering company Wessex Solar Energy was looking at a 40 acre site at North farm in Buckland Ripers for the plant, which is estimated to be around the 5MW mark, and therefore large enough to produce energy to power 1,500 homes.
As well as providing local residents with renewable energy, the plant was also designed to bring more than 50 jobs to the area. Mounted on metre-high posts, the solar modules would also have allowed continued use of the land for agricultural purposes, as sheep would have been able to graze beneath the panels.
Director of Wessex Solar Energy Ron Owen said, “It’s about producing energy locally that will then be used locally by local people.
“People would also see benefits, as all the business rates from the park will go to the local councils and not central Government.
“This will in turn create an industry in itself as it will bring the price of panels down and local people will then consider putting them on their roofs.”
Developers had hoped to submit a planning application for the park in the very near future, yet they have been forced to put the project on hold due to Government’s threatened slashing of the incentives.
“We were very close to putting in planning permission on the Buckland Ripers site but if we don’t know if the government will back the scheme we don’t want to waste a significant amount of money, around £30,000, for a planning application,” continued Owen.
“Because the industry and banks don’t know what the government is going to do or if they are going to give subsidies for solar park sites there is uncertainly in the industry.
“People have gone whole heatedly into achieving a significant amount of renewable energy in the South West.
“People inside and outside the country are prepared to invest in what seemed to be what the government wanted and as soon as they got into power they changed their minds,” he concluded.