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'Large scale' solar farm in Soham gets green light from Cambridgeshire County Council

A second solar farm for Soham is one step closer after Cambridgeshire County Council's decision
A second solar farm for Soham is one step closer after Cambridgeshire County Council's decision

A major new “large scale” solar farm could help power 9,000 houses after £600,000 funding was given the green light.

Members of Cambridgeshire County Council’s commercial and investment committee agreed on Friday to progress with the first steps of a project to bring a 188 acre solar farm to North Angle Farm in Soham.

Councillors unanimously resolved to agree the outline business case for the 37 megawatt facility and to provide “in-principle support” for a budget of £600,000 to fund the development costs.

A report which went before the committee said the site would be “suitable for the development of a large-scale solar farm”.

According to the report: “It is estimated that the 76 hectare site could generate nearly the same amount of electricity as used by 9,000 households annually and would prevent the emission of more than 230,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the project’s lifetime through offsetting fossil fuel electricity generation.”

Matthew Rathbone of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “The cost of solar panels has reduced. With a project of this scale, there will always be risks. Some of those are more general.”

Mr Rathbone said Brexit could have an impact on the cost of the project. He said solar panels are sourced from overseas so it is “not impossible” that costs will change.

Soham councillor Bill Hunt said he was not committing to a side and would be keeping an open mind towards the project.

Cllr Hunt said: “This land is mainly grade 3 of low agricultural value. I assume fair and proper conversations have been had with land owner and site will produce power for 9,000 homes”

Cllr Ian Bates noted that the ground conditions are “quite similar” to previous solar farm projects the council has been involved with. He said income from the scheme will go to support frontline services.

“I think historically we’ve had very successful projects,” said Cllr Bates.

Cllr David Jenkins said it is “an exceedingly good project”, but cautioned against using the success of previous projects to predict the success of new ones