‘People will welcome this’ - Leeds council's £50m solar farm plans given green light

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A senior Leeds city councillor excitedly claimed Leeds has more sunshine hours than Paris, such was his support for a scheme to create more solar energy farms in the city.

Councillors this week approved plans to inject up to £50m for the development of a mix of new solar farms and rooftop solar with battery storage.

It is hoped the plans – which do not yet have proposed sites – will help the council use less energy from environmentally-unfriendly sources, while also protecting it from volatile energy prices in the future.

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Speaking at a Leeds City Council executive board meeting, member for infrastructure Coun Helen Hayden (Lab) said: “Our commitment to clean energy has been going on for some time. We want to do as much as we can to make sure our energy comes from clean renewable sources.

More solar farms could be on the horizon for Leeds City Council.More solar farms could be on the horizon for Leeds City Council.
More solar farms could be on the horizon for Leeds City Council.

"Energy security is precarious at this time both nationally and internationally – I am proud we are doing everything we can.

"Our ambitions to create solar farms for the city will produce opportunities for biodiversity net gains.”

She added this would help the council to get 30 percent of its energy from renewables.

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Leeds Liberal Democrats leader Coun Stewart Golton said: “I am very supportive – I know some politicians get jittery around the delivery of renewable energy and land usage, but a lot of people would welcome this kind of investment in their neighbourhoods.

"I wish you god-speed. Leeds has more sunshine hours than Paris – so I think that is something we should take into consideration.”

Leeds Conservatives leader Coun Andrew Carter added: “I hope ward members and communities are consulted. I think we will get buy-in.

"What I don’t think we will get is buy-in if we bulldoze a hedge regardless. So my warning is ‘no bulldozing a hedge regardless’.

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"You must make sure you engage ward members, because they will get the community onside. If you don’t, you will meet opposition when you don’t need to.”

Coun Hayden said no sites had been identified yet and insisted that full consultation would be carried out.

She added: "We don’t have to knock anything down for this, so I won’t need my bulldozer.

"It’s a tricky job identifying sites, so as soon as we do so, we will consult with people.”