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Council reaps dazzling returns from solar farm

Hours of unbroken sunshine throughout April and May has seen the cash rolling in for a council.

A solar farm owned by West Suffolk Council produced 27 per cent more electricity than forecast, bringing with it £411,000 of income.

The 12.4MW solar farm at Toggam Farm, in Lakenheath, one of the largest local authority- owned solar farms in the country, first plugged in back in August 2016.

Sheep graze at the Toggam Farm solar farm site (36041776)
Sheep graze at the Toggam Farm solar farm site (36041776)

Since then it has been generating renewable electricity, which is sold to the National Grid, attracting income to help fund day-to-day council services.

May saw it produce 2007MWh of electricity – its best performing month so far. That is the equivalent of powering 600 homes for an entire year.

This was repeated across the UK and there were periods in May where 65 per cent of the country’s power demand was being generated by renewable sources.

Over the last three years the amount generated by the solar farm has created more than £4 million of income which, after costs, has resulted in more than £1.2 million being pumped into public services.

West Suffolk Council leader Cllr John Griffiths said: “Our environment is crucially important to us all both now and in the future, and while many of us have been working from home these past few months, our work to deliver on carbon savings, cut pollution, and generate income to pay for day to day services for residents and businesses across West Suffolk, is ongoing.

“In addition to our solar and ground source heating initiatives, we continue to monitor and take action on pockets of air pollution.

“Our partnership work, including improving electric vehicle infrastructure and reducing anti-idling, had already begun prior to the lockdown restrictions and I look forward to this continuing as soon as is practical."