Work on the first solar farm in Central Bedfordshire started on Friday. The 11-hectare site will generate enough electricity to power 1500 homes in the Parish of Caddington.
The beginning of this project was marked by a ground-breaking ceremony, attended by the Chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council, Cllr Caroline Maudlin.
The solar farm is expected to start generating electricity from September 2014. The 5 megawatts of power that will be generated by the 11-hectare site will be fed into the National Grid via the sub station in Caddington, providing enough electricity to supply 60 per cent of households in the two parishes.
Over 25 years, operating at capacity, the solar farm will contribute £437,000 for the two Parish Councils, which equates to a potential £17,500 a year. Some of this income could help fund domestic solar panel installations and other energy efficiency measures, making these communities even more sustainable.
The solar farm is within the emerging Neighbourhood Plan for the Parishes of Caddington and Slip End which has an ambition to be technically self-sufficient in green energy by expanding provision to include other technologies and measures over time.
Cllr Kevin Collins, Vice-Chairman of Caddington Parish Council, said: “This solar farm is another example of the two Parishes working closely together within the framework of the Neighbourhood Plan. Not only does this development send a signal of our concerns for the environment but it will help both Parishes to provide new, better and of course greener services and amenities for our residents.”
Central Bedfordshire Council has advised on the planning aspects of the farm, and pledged their support in light of the social, economic and environmental benefits.
Cllr Richard Stay, local Central Bedfordshire Councillor said: “Renewable energy is the future and it is fantastic to see this come to Central Bedfordshire. Solar farms like this are clean, safe and easy to maintain, and have little to no impact on the landscape. When we put first spade in the ground at the site on 11 July, we will be making the first step towards making Caddington and Slip End truly green communities.
“The solar farm is also a powerful educational tool—having it close at hand will enable residents to learn about environmentally friendly, clean, and renewable forms of energy at a time when this is an increasingly important issue. Developing sources of sustainable energy will preserve our world for generations to come.”