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Cost 'escalates' for revolutionary green energy development at Babraham Park & Ride, off the A1307 Haverhill to Cambridge



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Cambridgeshire County Council must borrow an extra £1million for a solar renewable energy development at a park and ride as the scheme becomes more expensive than predicted.

The higher costs for the scheme at Babraham Road Park and Ride, just off the A1307 from Haverhill to Cambridge, are due to the volatility in the market and supply chains, which has led to increased costs for construction projects.

At a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee last Thursday councillors were told that an additional £1.2m would need to be borrowed for the project.

A projection of how the Babraham Road Park & Ride site would look with the solar panels in place. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council
A projection of how the Babraham Road Park & Ride site would look with the solar panels in place. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council

The increase means that the capital cost to complete the project is now estimated to be just over £6.2m.

The Babraham Smart Energy Grid is planned to include 4,572 solar modules mounted on solar carports.

A report presented to councillors said that the site will generate the equivalent electricity as used by 756 households annually and will prevent 6,900 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the 30-year lifetimes of the project.

The completion of the Smart Energy Grid would leave Babraham Road Park & Ride looking like this. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council
The completion of the Smart Energy Grid would leave Babraham Road Park & Ride looking like this. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council

According to the table in the report, the capital cost to complete the project was estimated to be £5,795,386 in March this year and in November it was estimated to be £6,234,892

The electricity generated at the site will be used by up to 140 electric vehicle charging points at the site.

In addition, the county council also plans to sell the electricity to the Cambridge University Hospital Trust.

Work has already been undertaken to install a private direct wire, to make the site ready for the solar modules and charging points.

Babraham Road Park and Ride as it is now. Picture: Keith Heppell
Babraham Road Park and Ride as it is now. Picture: Keith Heppell

Council officers also highlighted that while construction costs had increased, the cost of electricity had also increased which they said had a “positive” effect on the business case for the development.

However, officers also recognised that the price of electricity in the future is uncertain.

The future look for the Babraham Road Park & Ride, with the smart energy grid in place. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council
The future look for the Babraham Road Park & Ride, with the smart energy grid in place. Picture: Cambridgeshire County Council

Councillor Brian Milnes, said he welcomed the report, but was “disappointed” that the costs had “escalated so much”.

He said: “The supply chain costs are just spiralling, which is a huge disappointment because obviously it impacts the business case.

“That may have some relief in the price of the electricity we are selling, that is hopefully likely to be temporary, whereas the costs will have to be amortised over the period of the development.

“However, I think we should welcome this as a major contribution and a very visible contribution to our green to the core policies, so I welcome that.”

The chair of the committee, Councillor Lorna Dupré added: “This is yet another excellent and important scheme towards helping us decarbonise across our own estate and across Cambridgeshire as a whole.”