Council scraps solar parks plan following planning changes

A Cambridgeshire local authority has said it is likely to scrap plans for the development of renewable energy parks at council owned agricultural sites following changes to national planning guidance on wind and solar schemes.

Solar: council-owned scheme axed
Solar: council-owned scheme axed

In July 2012 Peterborough City Council’s cabinet approved an outline strategy for the development of the renewable energy parks at three council owned agricultural sites to include ground mounted solar panels, wind turbines or other types of renewable energy schemes.

But the council has now announced that plans for two of the sites - Newborough Farm and Morris Fen in Thorney - are likely to be axed. The council said it is still considering whether plans for a third site - America Farm - should progress.

In a statement, the council said that government cuts to subsidies for large scale solar projects "on the back of changes to national planning guidance on wind and solar schemes, national funding uncertainties for onshore wind schemes and local opposition to the proposed solar farm schemes ... have severely hampered the council's ability to generate income from the projects".

Gavin Elsey, cabinet member for communications for Peterborough City Council, said: "When we announced the schemes two years ago it was a completely different landscape and at that time the projects we were proposing could have generated significant income for the city.

"At that time the government was fully accepting of our plans but a change in its focus means it is no longer as supportive of schemes of this nature. For example, the government has made it clear that it will call-in and decide planning decisions on renewable energy projects until at least the general election next May, generating yet further costly delays.

"This has meant that the revenue we could hope to make for the scheme is now so far reduced that it would not be in our best interests to proceed.

"Therefore we have no other option but to look again at our proposed schemes".

The council's cabinet will receive a report at a meeting in November recommending that the plans for Newborough Farm and Morris Fen are scrapped.

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