Solar farm completed

by | Jan 20, 2016 | News

The first phase of a solar farm on the Norfolk County Council-owned Scottow Enterprise Park, located on the former RAF Coltishall airbase, is now up and running. Generating 32 Megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, the first phase of the solar farm is big enough to power 10,000 homes which equates to the size of a town slightly larger than East Dereham.

The Scottow Moor solar farm has received widespread support from local residents, many of whom petitioned the County Council to include solar power as part of what the Council is doing to bring the former airbase back to life.

Proposals for the second phase of the project, approximately 18 MW, are likely to be considered in the autumn of this year under the Government’s ‘Contract for Difference’ subsidy regime. Once complete the solar farm will be one of the biggest in the UK.

The scheme will generate income for the County Council in excess of £10m over 25 years once both phases of the solar farm are complete. The Council has agreed this money will be reinvested in the Enterprise Park to create jobs, safeguard the important heritage assets such as the blast walls and bring forward proposals to open up public access. As part of the planning agreement, Scottow Moor Solar Ltd, the developer of the solar farm, is donating £25,000 to protect the site’s heritage assets.

Phase 1 of the solar farm was completed on schedule.  Consisting of more than 130,000 ground-mounted solar panels on either side of the runway and new underground connections to the local electricity network, the project has involved more than 200 people, working seven days a week.  The construction took place over a period of 10 weeks, making it one the quickest-ever built large-scale solar farms in the UK.

Leader of Norfolk County Council George Nobbs said: “This is just the sort of sound investment that we are always looking for and always encourage.  We are guaranteed income over the next 25 years, but not only this, the scheme is creating cleaner energy, saving 15,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

“The scheme is now up and running and I look forward to seeing sheep grazing under the panels within the next few weeks.”

David Fyffe of the developers, Scottow Moor Solar Limited, said: “We are delighted to have our solar farm generating renewable electricity for the local area. It’s been a monumental team effort from everyone involved and at every stage of the project, in particular the team at Enerparc for the deployment of the panels and onsite electrical works, and the teams at ESM Power and UKPN; they excelled in delivering the connection to the local grid on time and within budget.

“We would also like to thank the local community for their forbearance during the solar farm’s construction.

“We wholeheartedly support the County Council’s vision for the Enterprise Park and so we hope that our solar farm will provide the necessary boost to the Council’s aspirations for further inward investment and development.”

Bev Spratt, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Economic Development Sub Committee, said: “I’m pleased we have now reached this stage as this project has been a long time in the making. The fact the solar farm took just 10 weeks to construct and connect to the grid is a fantastic achievement by the firm who built it – credit to them.

“A solar farm scheme has a number of benefits as it helps us to deliver our economic objectives whilst at the same time preserving the heritage assets on the site. In total there have been in excess of 200 people working on the project, including local companies, so providing a boost to the Norfolk economy.”

Political comment
Cllr George Nobbs, Leader of the Labour Group and Leader of the Council, on 01603 222936

Economic Development
Cllr Bev Spratt (Conservative) Chairman of the Economic Development Sub-Committee on 07887 633253
Cllr Stan Hebborn (UKIP) Vice Chairman of the Economic Development Sub-Committee on 07792 135071
Cllr Colleen Walker (Labour) on 01493 782272
Cllr John Timewell (Liberal Democrat) on 07717 881857
Cllr Andrew Boswell (Green) on 07787 127881