Huge solar energy farm next to Rochdale Canal given green light – Manchester Evening News
Plans to build a new solar energy farm on land next to the Rochdale Canal have been given the green light.
Oldham council had applied to install around 2,700 solar panels on more than 3.5 acres of land at Wrigley Head in Failsworth.
The site, which is bounded on either side by the Metrolink and the Rochdale Canal, is owned by the local authority and is made up of ‘partial hardstanding’ and birch trees.
Under the plans the Failsworth plot would become a solar farm for a ‘temporary period’ of 30 years from when it begins to generate electricity.
Speaking at the committee meeting where the application was decided, planning officer Martyn Leigh said it was ‘essentially disused land’.
Historic maps suggested that it was formerly used as a football ground, then as an industrial site and bosses say it is now used for ‘informal recreation; including dog walking’.
Mr Leigh said that wild flowers would be planted in between the rows of solar panels and trees and hedges would be planted along the boundaries.
Construction would take around three months to complete, he added, and the site would be covered by CCTV for security purposes to ‘deter and prevent criminal activity’.
Councillor Brian Hobin who represents Failsworth East said that since the agenda for the meeting had been advertised he had been ‘inundated’ by messages from residents who had not been consulted about the plans.
“Don’t the residents deserve the chance to have that consultation?,” he said, asking for a deferment on the decision.
(Image: Oldham council)
However Mr Leigh said it was ‘his understanding’ that the application had been made public through a site notice, neighbour notices and in the press.
Head of planning Peter Richards reiterated there had been no objections to the proposals made through the council’s planning portal.
The area was selected by the town hall after several months of scoping out sites owned by the council, with an alternative site being rejected as it is in the green belt.
A supporting statement on behalf of the council says it recognises that ‘climate change as one of the most pressing issues facing humanity in the 21st century’.
“The proposed development would support Oldham council to utilise an unused land asset within their ownership for electricity generation, that will be fed into the UK national grid and can be offset from their overall electricity usage,” it states.
“The efficiency savings achieved by the council through the reduction in bills will free up money for services.”
Committee member Coun Fida Hussain added that he supported the plans.
“We’re going towards greener technology and this is something that I welcome,” he said.
The application was approved unanimously by councillors.
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