Wakefield Council reveals plans to build solar energy farms in Ossett and South Kirkby

Wakefield Council reveals plans to build solar energy farms in Ossett and South Kirkby

Ossett and South Kirkby have been earmarked as the locations for the new farms, which could also create jobs and cash for the district.

The council is yet to say exactly where the farms may be built, but Ossett and South Kirkby have been earmarked as the host sites.

If approved, the council says the energy farms could wipe out all carbon emissions from its buildings within 18 months. Without them however, councillors have been warned that the local authority could fail to meet its ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Building the farms would be subject to planning permission being given at both sites. The plans were revealed at a scrutiny meeting on Monday, by council officer Kevin Fisher.

Mr Fisher, from the authority's property services team, said: "As a council we use between 50 and 53 giga watts (GW) per annum. "So if we were to build those energy parks, in a utopian world, we'd be almost able to reduce our properties' carbon footprint to zero in 18 months.

"We spend £67m in energy costs per annum, so they would also be cut, but there needs to be capital investment in that (the project) going forward."

Several sites had been considered for the farms, including land by the village of Bottom Boat, to the east of Stanley.But if all goes to plan, more energy parks could be created in years to come, in addition to the Ossett and South Kirkby sites.

Planning applications have yet to be submitted and it is yet to be confirmed whereabouts in each area the parks could be.

Mr Fisher acknowledged that process would not be straightforward, but added that surplus energy could be sold back to the public at a discounted price, as part of the council's attack on fuel poverty.

He added: "It's challenging because it's not something people want in their own back yard, but the kind of technology we're looking at will be suitable for use on farmland. You can graze sheep besides it.

"PV (solar) panels, although intrusive, are a temporary structure, so when new technology comes along they can be replaced.

"It's not like wind farms, which are more permanent.

"If we produce enough energy to reduce our carbon footprint to a negative figure, we could then sell that on to generate some revenue from that."

Asked by Councillor Jack Hemingway if the council's carbon neutral commitment could be achieved without the farms, Mr Fisher replied: "From conversations I've had with officers and colleagues, I think that the 2030 target is extremely challenging.

"It's very commendable to push that forward and it absolutely focuses our minds in moving that forward.

"If you strip the PV farms out, we would struggle to meet that commitment."