Ground Mounted Solar
Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
The Chair moved this item up the agenda with agreement.
The Income Generation Manager presented a report to cabinet so that they can consider the high level business case to establish ground mounted solar arrays. Cabinet are invited to consider whether to proceed to the next stage of the project. This is the production of a detailed business case.
HBC has already agreed, as part of its Income Generation Strategy to invest in three policy objectives in a ‘commercial’ manner; one of those investment themes is energy generation.
HBC are looking at the possibility of establishing three separate 1 MWp ground mounted solar arrays. One of these will be located on the Council’s property at Upper Wilting Farm, Crowhurst. The other two will be located on land close to The Milking Parlour, in Hastings Country Park, Fairlight.
The Council has a good opportunity to establish these sorts of ‘solar farms’ because it is a significant landowner and has no land acquisition problems. The other two critical pre-cursors of a successful project are also in place:
1. The local energy grid, operated by the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) UK Power Network (UKPN) has capacity to accept generated power without unnecessarily high costs of connecting to its grid.
2. Through HBC’s existing relationship with LASER (an energy broker) it has access to a range of customers for any energy that it produces.
Concerns were raised particularly about the sites in Hastings Country Park. This was due to the Country Park area being in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and adjacent to a site of Special Scientific Interest.
The sites identified aren’t protected and are used for grazing, with no public access. These concerns were about the negative impact on the environment and wildlife present in this area. Natural England reports were citied that both identified neutral and negative impacts of Solar PV developments
Councillor Chowney proposed approval of the recommendations to the Director of Operational Services report, with the amendment that Natural England are consulted first as part of the feasibility study. This was seconded by Councillor Fitzgerald.
RESOLVED (by 5 votes for, to 2 against) that:
1. That delegated authority is granted to the Director of Operational Services, in consultation with the Leader, to develop a detailed business case for ground mounted solar arrays. Natural England are consulted first for professional comment. The detailed business case is to be presented to Cabinet in June 2019.
2. That delegated authority is granted to the Director of Operational Services, in consultation with the Leader, to spend up to £80,400 to pay for professional studies and pre-planning consultations. The money will be sourced through bids to the Invest to Save fund and from reserves.
The reason for this decision was:
The proposed ground mounted solar arrays have the potential to make a significant contribution to the objectives of the Income Generation and draft Energy Strategies.
A detailed business case will provide the information Cabinet will require when considering whether to further commit the Council to the proposed project; including a significant allocation in the Capital Programme.
A detailed business case will require a pre-planning application to be conducted with two planning authorities. In order to get value from that process professional comment from the sources detailed at para. 13 will be required.
Natural England will be the first approached to get professional comment due to concerns about environmental impact.
Report author: Victoria Conheady
Publication date: 10/04/2019
Date of decision: 07/01/2019
Decided at meeting: 07/01/2019 - Cabinet