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Council Wants To Use 900 Acres Of Land For Solar Panels And Wind Turbines

Peterborough City Council have submitted proposals to develop 900 acres of land that is for prime agricultural use for the installation of nine wind turbines and five hundred thousand solar panels at a cost of £331 million. This figure is made up of £141 million in installation costs providing the capacity to provide sufficient power for 22,000 households and £190 million in loan interest payments.

Solar panel farm
(image credit: h080)

Over a 25-year period it is forecast that the local authority will make a profit of around £31 million but, if further turbines were added at a future date profits could increase to £100 million.

The council submitted a formal planning application on 19th December 2012 and will no doubt be keen to progress matters quickly to benefit from current subsidy levels

However, 250 acres of this land, that is council owned, has been rented and farmed by a Mr Harris for the past 35 years so he is unhappy with the situation as he had intended to continue farming until age 65 and then hand over the reins to his son in 6 years time.  Apparently, the council will make an offer of compensation to the farmers affected and try to find them alternative land to farm.

Peterborough City Council is keen to reduce its carbon footprint but it is the scale of this project that is a major concern to critics as it is equivalent in size to about 70 football pitches. Three areas of farmland that the council own near to the city would become ‘renewable energy parks’.

Peter Brewer, who is the group secretary of the Peterborough branch of the National Farmers’ Union, stated: ‘This is some of the best farming land not only in the county, but the country. It’s grade-one or two agricultural land, which is the best you can get.

‘It will produce significantly more crops per acre than other land, and it seems an odd tactic to take excellent farming land out of production at a time when food prices are going up.’

A council spokesperson stated: ‘Central government is cutting funding in swathes.

‘If we as a council do not act now, there will be a serious reduction in services in the long-term — for the farmers, the affected residents or any person in Peterborough.’

The spokesperson also pointed out that any assessed risks were “entirely justifiable”.

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