Shropshire Star

Shropshire Council set for £15 million solar farm windfall as capacity doubles

Solar farms approved in Shropshire last year could net over £15 million in business rates for Shropshire Council coffers over the next 40 years.


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Applications on the council planning portal show six major solar farms were approved in the county in 2023, adding around 175 megawatts (Mw) of solar generation to the county’s capacity, almost doubling the total.

Figures provided on documents supporting the applications show the developments would be liable for around £16m in business rates over their typical 40-year lifespan.

The largest schemes, a 49Mw installation set to be built on a former airfield near Eaton upon Tern and a 40Mw scheme at Rock Farm, Ludlow, could power the equivalent of around 20,000 homes when they become operational.

Shropshire currently has 21 larger solar farm sites in operation with a capacity of around 188Mw.

Prior to last year, the largest scheme previously approved in the county was also in Ludlow, a 54 hectare site solar array at Brick House Farm proposed by energy firm Bluefield Renewable Developments which was approved in 2022. Business Rates for the site are expected to be in excess of £10million over the project’s 40-year lifespan.

The statistics come after a report from environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth called for more suitable sites to be identified for renewable schemes to support the UK Government’s target of “decarbonising” electricity generation by 2035.

Figures produced by the group showed that onshore wind and solar power could produce 13 times more electricity than current levels generated in England, and they say Shropshire could generate around 4,500 Gigawatt-hours of renewable power annually.

“Unleashing the UK’s immense potential to generate cheap, clean home-grown renewables is essential to bring down our energy bills for good and meeting the UK’s vital international target to reduce carbon emissions by two thirds by 2030,” said a spokesperson.

“We urgently need our political leaders to pull their heads out of the sand and produce a strong, ambitious and fair new climate plan that lifts the barriers to onshore wind and solar power and secures investment in the infrastructure needed to support the switch to renewables.

“These are win-win policies for creating long-term jobs, boosting our ailing economy and protecting our planet for future generations.”

Last year, renewable energy sources generated a record 48 per cent of all electricity used in the UK, government figures show.

Shropshire Council has a stated ambition of becoming carbon net-neutral by 2030, with hopes for the county as a whole becoming carbon neutral by 2040. The authority itself has solar panels installed across 27 of its sites with a peak capacity of around 1.2Mw.

“Shropshire Council aims to be entirely energy self-sufficient using renewable energy within the decade as well as facilitate the county as a whole to maximise its benefit from its plentiful renewable resources,” the authority says.