Military base draws up plans for new solar panel park

Rock Barracks, Woodbridge Picture: MIKE PAGE

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

Plans are being drawn up for a solar park to provide renewable energy at a Suffolk military site.

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

The Ministry of Defence has asked consultants to look into the proposal for the Army's Rock Barracks base - home to the 23 Parachute Engineers - near Woodbridge.

Public Power Solutions, working for the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, said an area of around 8.5 acres would 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.

The consultants have asked East Suffolk Council for its views on the environmental impact of the solar park, which could provide 1.5MW of electricity - and power the equivalent of around 300 homes a year.

The site for the proposed solar park is 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.

Two small temporary military training facilities (C130 exit simulators for parachute training) lay just beyond the east end of the site, while the former main RAF runway is 85m to the north.

Electricity from the project 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.

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Rock Barracks had been scheduled to close in 2027 but was granted a reprieve last year when the MoD decided it would now house the Army's new Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability, a defence task currently being undertaken by the RAF Regiment at Honington.

It means a Royal Engineers squadron is moving in from its current location in Germany to work on the new capability, with other elements being added as the capability grows over time.