Peterborough solar farm halt called for by councillors

Farmland, Newborough and solar farm The council hopes to turn its farmland in Cambridgeshire into an energy park

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Councillors have voted to ask cabinet colleagues at Peterborough City Council to put a halt to plans for solar farms near the city.

The Conservative-led council wants to build renewable energy farms at three sites and is considering both wind and solar options.

But the scrutiny committee has asked the cabinet to reconsider the plans.

The scheme, first proposed in September 2012, will next go before the cabinet in January.

The plans have been opposed by the National Farmers Union, which said up to 18 city council tenant farmers could lose their livelihood if the energy park goes ahead.

Councillor Dale McKean told the scrutiny committee that the cost of the solar farms outweighed the benefits.

The Conservative councillor for the affected area said he was worried about the cost of the proposed projects.

"At Morris Fen and Newborough the overall outlay over 25 years would have been £296m and the income would only be about £20m.

"The second option would generate an income of around £166m."

'Not viable'

One of the proposed sites at America Farm would break even or make a loss, Mr McKean claimed.

"But what is clear is that the solar-only option really isn't viable."

Peterborough City Council's leader, Marco Cereste, said: "Harnessing the power of renewable energy will generate income that can benefit every resident of our city.

"This is a significant opportunity for Peterborough City Council to address the budget deficits that we like many other local authorities face."

A spokesman for the council added: "Members of the scrutiny committee for rural communities have asked cabinet to consider stopping plans to install solar panels at America Farm, Morris Fen and the Newborough site.

"The committee did not ask for the wind farm proposals to be reconsidered."

In June, the council agreed to defer the planning decision until a later date to allow an archaeological survey to be completed.

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