Work on the first solar farm in Central Bedfordshire started on Friday. The site will generate enough electricity to power 1,500 homes in Caddington and Slip End.
The project was marked by a ground-breaking ceremony attended by the chairman of Central Beds Council, Cllr Caroline Maudlin.
The solar farm is expected to start generating electricity from September 2014. The five megawatts of power generated by the 11-hectare site will be fed into the National Grid via the sub station in Caddington, providing enough electricity to supply 60 per cent of households in the two parishes.
Over 25 years, operating at capacity, the solar farm will contribute £437,000 for the two parish councils, which equates to a potential £17,500 a year. Some of this income could help fund domestic solar panel installations and other energy efficiency measures.
The solar farm is within the emerging Neighbourhood Plan for Caddington and Slip End which has an ambition to be technically self-sufficient in green energy by expanding provision to include other technologies and measures over time.
Cllr Kevin Collins, vice-chairman of Caddington Parish Council, said: “This solar farm is another example of the two parishes working closely together within the framework of the Neighbourhood Plan. Not only does this development send a signal of our concerns for the environment but it will help both parishes to provide new, better and greener services and amenities for our residents.”
The council has advised on the planning aspects of the farm, and pledged their support in light of the social, economic and environmental benefits.
Cllr Richard Stay, local Central Beds councillor, said: “Renewable energy is the future and it is fantastic to see this come here. Solar farms like this are clean, safe and easy to maintain and have little to no impact on the landscape.
“The solar farm is also a powerful educational tool. Having it close at hand will enable residents to learn about environmentally friendly, clean and renewable forms of energy at a time when this is an increasingly important issue. Developing sources of sustainable energy will preserve our world for generations to come.”