Could Cambridgeshire County Council end its ban on wind turbines being built on its 33,000 acre county farms estate?
- Credit: Archant
A blanket ban on wind farms on farm land owned by Cambridgeshire County Council may be reviewed following the unveiling of an energy strategy.
The council argues its new policy will “provide a better, joined up corporate approach to energy investment, savings and delivery”.
The policy comes five years after a group of farmers who rent land from the county council’s 33,000 acre estate were banned from leasing sites for wind turbines.
Hopes were high that wind turbines might have been built at Chatteris, Farcet, Littleport and Coveney but the ruling Conservative group vetoed the idea – at a potential loss of council tax payers of up to £700,000 a year.
But with the new policy – and the council now ‘hung’ and run by committees rather than cabinet- Cambridgeshire could fall in line with Government plans to become more energy efficient.
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In its energy strategy, the county council says Cambridgeshire has the technical potential to deliver nearly a third of its energy needs for buildings and for services but excluding transport.
Those councillors who have discussed the strategy to date (a three week public consultation begins on January 3) included caveats that prevent growing maize on land for anaerobic digestion facilities that have to be transported up to 30 or 40 miles by road.
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And the strategy will take on board comments by Councillor Josh Schumann who complained about the poor consultation process for the recently opened council owned Soham Solar Project. He claimed the council had “not engaged” with the public prior to permission being given for the 60 acre site at Triangle Farm that is expected to net £1 million a year.
However the council admits it could face difficulties in selling off surplus energy through the National Grid.
“Owing to the local grid network having reached its capacity in many parts of Cambridgeshire, connections to the grid to export electricity are difficult to obtain and costly,” says the report.
The council says it has £15million of energy saving projects including 24 schools with a further 32 schools being ‘signed up’ for energy performance measures.
The council is also developing a smart energy grid project at St Ives park and ride to supply renewable energy for electric vehicle charging and to sell to local consumers.