Work to start on large-scale solar farm in the borough
Cheshire East Council is set to begin work on a large-scale solar farm, which will generate renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.
The 4.1 megawatt solar farm — enough to power about 1,200 houses — is being built by the council on land adjacent to the composting plant in Leighton Grange Farm in Crewe.
The development of a solar farm to supply power to Cheshire East's state-of-the-art in vessel composting facility is the next phase in the relationship between Biowise — part of the Urbaser Group — and Cheshire East Council.
The solar farm will not only help to provide renewable energy to power Cheshire East's composting plant — operated by Biowise — but will also put green energy back into the national grid, helping to offset a significant amount of the council's carbon emissions.
Cheshire East Council has committed to becoming carbon neutral in its operations by 2025, and in supporting the wider borough to understand and reduce their carbon footprint. The target is based on an assessment of the council's carbon footprint and covers the emissions that the council has direct control over, including streetlighting, gas and electricity from council-owned buildings, fleet vehicles and business travel.
Councillor Mick Warren, chair of the council's environment and communities committee, said: "Cheshire East Council is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2025, and that means reducing emissions that the council has direct control over. We will do everything within our powers to achieve this.
"We are delivering a wide range of projects to reduce our carbon emissions, including decarbonising council buildings though initiatives such as low carbon heat pumps, LED lighting, solar panels and improved heating systems.
"Streetlights and road signs across the borough are being upgraded to LED lighting, we've introduced electric vehicles for services, and are trialing hydrogen for our refuse vehicles through the North West's first hydrogen refuelling station in Middlewich.
"We know that we can't eliminate these carbon emissions completely by 2025, so projects like this one at Leighton Grange are vital, in order to offset some of those emissions and help us to reach our target.
"Another way we will offset our carbon emissions is through significant tree-planting across the borough. We are well underway with this project, with plans to plant 100 hectares of trees by 2025 — the equivalent of 140 football pitches. This solar farm will sit alongside our largest single-site tree-planting scheme to date, where we planted seven hectares of trees in 2022."
Bob Wilkes, managing director at Biowise, said: "To add a carbon neutral source of power to the process by which Cheshire East Council recycles its kitchen and garden waste into 100 per cent organic compost should be congratulated.
"It provides residents with a model of best practice on how to manage local waste and we are delighted to have been able to play our part in that process and look forward to many years of carbon free composting."
The solar farm will be installed by Gamma Energy Limited, with work due to start in early autumn and expected to be completed by the end of the year.
To find out more about what the council is doing to become carbon neutral by 2025, visit its website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/carbonneutral l-r Ralph Kemp, Cheshire East Council's head of environmental services, Councillor Mick Warren, chair of Cheshire East Council's environment and communities committee, Dan Griffiths, Cheshire East Council's programme manager for energy, carbon and economic development, Bob Wilkes, managing director for Biowise and Dave Scott, Leighton Grange Farm site manager for Biowise.
* On site photo showing Biowise plant in the background: from (l-r) Dan Griffiths, Cheshire East Council's programme manager for energy, carbon and economic development, Dave Scott, Leighton Grange Farm site manager for Biowise, Bob Wilkes, managing director for Biowise, Ralph Kemp, Cheshire East Council's head of environmental services and Councillor Mick Warren, chair of Cheshire East Council's environment and communities committee.