Heat is on over lost £150k deal

A solar farm is proposed for Eggington
A solar farm is proposed for Eggington

A parish council has hit out at Central Beds after a lucrative financial offer from an energy developer was allegedly taken away from them.

Eggington Parish Council say they were approached by developers Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd regarding a proposal for a solar farm on Leighton Road, north of the village.

The agents offered the parish council a “community contribution” to a maximum of £150,000 over 20 years in return for their support of the proposal.

In the planning report on the application, which goes before Central Beds’ development management committee on Wednesday December 17, the parish council described the turn of events.

They said: “No sooner had we responded to Lightsource we were informed by them that ‘the council [Central Beds] have requested that the community benefit offer be dealt withunder a Section 106’.

“This came as a terrible blow to us, and when contacted further Lightsource said this was not something they had previously experienced with their other sites.”

A Section 106 involves a community contribution being made by a developer to a local authority in order to compensate for loss or damage made by a development or mitigate its impact.

Although the money set aside will still be intended for the benefit of the local community, it will be managed by a panel based at Central Beds.

Eggington Parish Council spokesman said: “This money is being given by Lightsource for the benefit of the local community. We perceive that Central Beds want to get the money for themselves.”

A statement by Lightsource confirmed that a community benefit of £148,000 over a 20-year period was being made through a Section 106 agreement.

In response to Eggington Parish Council’s complaints, a Central Beds spokesman said: “Central Bedfordshire Council has not taken money away from the parish council as the community benefit, or Section 106 payments, will still be spent for the benefit of local residents.

“The administration will be through Central Bedfordshire but the parish council will still influence how the money is used.”

The proposed solar farm at Eggington would be the size of 25 football pitches and produce enough energy for 2000 homes.