Consultation launched for solar farm project

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County councillors have approved plans to consult on six proposed solar farm sites for Derbyshire.

Residents will now be asked for their views about plans for the council-owned locations which are in the North East and Amber Valley areas of the county. The consultation will start on Monday, March 9, and run for six weeks.

The proposals are to set up a series of ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) sites – better known as solar farms on council-owned land which is currently underused.

Initial investigations have identified the following sites for potential development: agricultural land at Swathwick Lane, Swathwick, Wingerworth, Westthorpe Hills, former Westthorpe Colliery, Killamarsh, land at Pye Bridge, Alfreton, former Swanwick Colliery reclamation land, Swanwick, agricultural land at Mansfield Road, Temple Normanton, former Williamthorpe Colliery, Holmewood.

The idea is that solar panels generate electricity from the sun. An energy supplier then pays the council for each unit of electricity produced with extra payments if the electricity is then exported to the National Grid.

Further feasibility studies would still need to be carried out. If any of the sites get the go-ahead they could be up and running by March 2016.

Cllr John Owen, of Derbyshire County Council, said: “These sites are not currently being put to their best use so if this project gets the go-ahead it offers great potential to generate a good income for the council and so help protect services.

“Generally, these proposed sites are already screened off, in out of the way areas and in most cases are not overlooked. And largely they tend not to be of much environmental interest. In some cases they could provide a good opportunity to improve the local conservation.”

“But there is still some work to do yet and before we make any decisions we really want to hear from local residents.”

The consultation questionnaire can be completed online at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/solarfarms