Lakenheath solar farm owned by Forest Heath District Council makes £308k for local services in year one

Norfolk Horns at Lakenheath solar farm.

Norfolk Horns at Lakenheath solar farm. - Credit: Contributed

One of the largest council-owned solar farms in the country in west Suffolk is producing enough electricity to power 3,500 homes.

Lakenheath solar farm graphic.

Lakenheath solar farm graphic. - Credit: Contributed

Forest Heath District Council invested nearly £14.5million to acquire the 12.4MW solar farm at Toggam Farm, Lakenheath, and a year on they say it is performing to expectations.

The aim of the purchase was to help fund essential council services and support the delivery of the local authority’s Community Energy Plan.

It was predicted that in its first year the solar farm - which stands on 17.5 hectares - would create at least £300,000 of additional net income by selling the electricity generated to the National Grid, after taking into account the capital outlay being recouped over 25 years.

At the end of the first year, it has generated 11,682MWh of electricity, bringing in ?£1.2m of income, ?£308,000 net income (taking into account the capital outlay) to contribute towards funding local services.

The electricity is enough to power an electric vehicle for 1,943 laps around the planet, including a few recharging stops, or could power more than two seasons of Premier League football.

Stephen Edwards, Forest Heath’s cabinet member for resources, said: “One year on, this remains one of the biggest local authority-owned solar farms in the UK, producing enough electricity to offset the carbon footprint of 1,700 cars and enough electricity to power 3,500 homes.

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“A key reason for this purchase is to generate annual income to protect the local council services that we supply day to day to our residents and businesses.”

He added: “I am really pleased with how well it has performed so far. We’ve now got sheep grazing there which helps keep the area well maintained, and I look forward to the sun shining even more.”

The solar farm is predicted to generate?£700,000 a year of additional net income by year 10 of the 25-year project. It features 47,748 panels each weighing about 20kg and measuring 1.6m by 1m.

Its success has been celebrated with a fun parody of The Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann sung by Newmarket Community Choir.

This will be used with groups and school children who want to find out more about the project. To see it go to the Forest Heath District Council Facebook page, YouTube channel or on Twitter at @ForestHeath #BaaBaaAmp

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