Plan for Cornwall council-owned solar farm is back on
An ambitious scheme to build the UK's first council-owned solar farm is back on the agenda.
Cornwall Council has confirmed it is moving ahead with the construction of Kernow Solar Park, near Newquay Airport.
When completed, the five megawatt farm could produce an initial income of around £700,000 a year and enough power to run 1,000 homes.
Julian German, the authority's portfolio holder for localism, sustainability and devolution, welcomed the decision
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"We are leading the way with our own development, showing full commitment to our Green Cornwall Strategy," he said. "This single project will generate renewable electricity equivalent to almost five per cent of the council's carbon footprint."
Plans to develop the pioneering project were first considered by Cornwall Council in 2010.
However the scheme was temporarily shelved in the midst of uncertainty from the Government over the levels of Feed In Tariffs (FiT), the amount which would be paid to green energy producers for their contribution to the national grid.
During this period of delay, part of the original budget was redirected to develop smaller-scale rooftop solar projects and was responsible for the successful installation of 1.6 megawatts of panels on a number of council owned libraries, schools, leisure centres and offices in just four months.
These rooftop solar projects are now saving 800 tonnes of carbon every year – the equivalent of 1.5 per cent of the council's carbon footprint.
The business case for the solar park was kept under review and has been brought back to the table following the recent drop in the price of large-scale solar panels.
John Fitter, a councillor for the area covering the solar farm, said it was good news for the environment.
"The plan is for the solar park to supply power to the national grid, but also directly to the council owned Newquay Airport.
"This will help to reduce the airport's carbon footprint and save money."
Newquay Cornwall Airport Managing Director Al Titterington said he was pleased to see the plan go ahead.
"The power supplied from the solar farm will greatly assist the airport's aspiration to make our operations carbon neutral, helping us to become one of the UK's greenest airports," he said.
"We are currently working towards certification through the Airports Council International Carbon Accreditation Scheme and being able to source our electricity directly from the solar farm will dramatically reduce our emissions."
Cornwall Council has made a pledge to reduce its own carbon emissions from buildings and street lighting by 30 per cent by 2016.
This commitment is part of the wider Green Cornwall Strategy, which aims to reduce the wider carbon footprint by 40 per cent by 2020.