Laura Sharman 19 August 2016

District buys solar farm for new revenue source

Forest Heath District Council has purchased the largest local authority-owned solar farm in the UK, which will generate income of up to £700,000 per year.

The council has purchased the 12.4MW solar farm for £14.5m at Toggam Farm with the intention of using the revenue to help fund public services.

After the capital outlay has been recouped, the investment will generate at least £300,000 in the first year, rising to £700,000 per year after ten years.

Cllr Stephen Edwards, the council's cabinet member for resources and performance said: 'The way councils are financed is changing – our main Government grant will be scrapped by around 2020 and council tax doesn’t cover as much as people think. This means we have to look at new ways of investing to make money to pay for services.

'In the future, the solar farm could provide energy to West Suffolk councils’ offices and our leisure centres, helping us and our partners to save money on energy costs on top of the income it will bring in, while further down the line there may also be opportunities to benefit our communities as well, although this is dependent on the energy market.'

The council will also be lobbying the Government to over charges over the generation and supply of energy to local markets so it could offer branded tariffs to local businesses.

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