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Mid Suffolk: Ambitious £7million solar panel project is backed

06:00 08 April 2014

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market.

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market.

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Two Suffolk councils are making a claim to be the greenest in the country with an ambitious project which could see solar panels installed on more than 2,100 properties.

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Mid Suffolk has backed the first phase of the £7million initiative, with Babergh District Council due to vote on Thursday.

The project aims to prevent almost 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted and to cut households’ energy bills. If backed by Babergh, the councils would be the first in the UK to become carbon negative.

Derrick Haley, leader of the Conservative-run Mid Suffolk, said: “I think this shows that we are trying to address the fuel poverty and also to be environmentally friendly. This is what we are trying to do - to do two things at the same time. It’s a worthwhile project and we need to make sure it happens. I fully support this.”

Roy Barker, Mid Suffolk’s environment portfolio holder, said the previous installation of solar panels on the council’s sheltered housing had been positive. He said: “Looking at the savings, they are really massive. We are one of the first to be doing this - we are being forerunners again.”

Over a 20-year period the panels would raise the councils more than £7.5million. Andrew Stringer, Green councillor and opposition leader, said: “I obviously welcome the aim of what this is trying to do - it ticks a number of boxes. I want to focus on the particulars of what we are about to do and learn some lessons from the past.”

He wanted assurances over the quality of the proposed installations. Stephen Clarke, a senior surveyor for the councils, said he was “very happy” with the previous work of the contractor lined up.

The panels could be fitted on 1,250 Babergh properties and 900 in Mid Suffolk.

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