Work under way on solar farm to power Suffolk military site

Rock Barracks, Woodbridge Picture: MIKE PAGE

Rock Barracks, Woodbridge Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Mike Page

Work is under way to enable a Suffolk military site to be one of the first in the country to receive its electricity from solar power.

Rock Barracks near Woodbridge is one of four sites where solar farms are being constructed initially as part of a Ministry of Defence project which should save £152million on running costs in the next 10 years and reduce greenhouse emissions.

The British Army this week opened the first of the quartet at the Defence School of Transport, at Normandy Barracks in Leconfield, East Yorkshire.

The project - part of the Army's £200 million Project Prometheus investment to create 80 similar projects - is made up of more than 4,000 solar panels set in an area the size of around eight football pitches.

Construction is under way at the next three pilot sites - Rock Barracks, the Duke of Gloucester Barracks, Gloucestershire, and Baker Barracks, Sussex .

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The pilot sites will create £1m savings and 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, with saving costs due to be reinvested into essential Army infrastructure.

East Suffolk Council agreed permission for the renewable energy project at Rock Barracks, near Woodbridge - home to the 23 Parachute Engineers Regiment - and it is expected to begin generating power this year.

An area of around 8.5 acres will be used for the proposed photovoltaic solar park - a tiny amount of the site of the base, previously known as RAF Woodbridge, which covers nearly 1,000 acres and is home to around 500 personnel.

Rock Barracks is set to have a solar park to power its buildings Picture: SU ANDERSON

Rock Barracks is set to have a solar park to power its buildings Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

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The solar park could provide 1.5MW of electricity - and power the equivalent of around 300 homes a year.

It is being built on rough grassland to the north of the main barracks, outside the perimeter security fence although within the wider MoD land holding. It is bounded by barracks roads which formerly served as aircraft taxiways.

Electricity generated will power the barracks and is expected to mean a 29% reduction over the existing carbon emissions from electricity consumption on site. Any extra power will go into the National Grid to help the surrounding area.

Major General David Southall, director of basing and infrastructure, said: "It showcases our firm commitment to tackle the effects of climate change, harnessing renewable energy to power our estate. We continue to think big, start small, scale fast."

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