Soham earmarked for new solar farm as county council pushes green investment


- Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council is set to invest £15m to kick start a green energy initiative that could include a new solar farm in Soham.

The new green initiative is being presented to Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet next Tuesday.

Alex Plant, executive director for the environment, will call for cabinet to “approve the principle of borrowing £15m for investment into projects” as part of the Mobilising Local Energy Investment Project.

Among the first projects that could be progressed is a solar farm on land owned by the county council at Great Drove, Soham - and planners are now looking at its viability.

“Feasibility work initially identified five sites with potential but after further investigation that was reduced to two less productive (grade 3) county farm land,” said Mr Plant.

“Further investigations have reduced this to just one site. The key issues for such sites are grid connection and planning consents and the one remaining site at Soham looks to be viable on both of these points.”

The 68 acre Soham site has been selected, says an application by the county’s agents to East Cambridgeshire District Council, because of the poor quality of land and the fact the site is isolated “with minimal views from public vantage points and residential properties”.

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The solar park would not only create “revenue generating investment” but the technology could be used for education purposes and to deliver electricity to the county council owned farms.

The agents conclude that the “delivery of a major renewable scheme has an overall positive impact in respect of the environment”.

As well as the Soham solar farm project, Mr Plant is also keen for the county to look at 300 community buildings including village halls and sports centres and pavilions.

“For many of these buildings, energy is a significant ongoing cost,” he said. “The aim is to identify community buildings that need retrofitting with energy efficient measures and aggregates these buildings to provide the scale that is of interest for financial investment.”