Gareth Huw Davies

Environment Blog / Green Technology

Former World War II airfield could become UK’s first solar park

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Velo Steve

A former World War II airfield in Buckinghamshire could become the UK’s first solar park, after the local council, Aylesbury Vale District Council, granted planning permission.

Renewable energy firm Ownergy said installation of the first array of 1,500 panels, , start in the New Year in the middle of a former runway in the centre of the Westcott Venture Park, and finish in spring. He panels should generate about 350kW, meeting about 9% of the 70 tenant businesses’ energy needs.

Rockspring Property Investment Managers, who own the park, working with Ownergy, wants to expand the project, extending the park’s capacity to at least 1.2MW.

Ownergy chairman Philip Wolfe said the Westcott initiative was “exactly” how businesses should be making use of the government’s Feed-In Tariff (FiT) incentive. Under FiT renewable energy generators receive a guaranteed premium price for the power they produce.

“This location is absolutely perfect for a solar park. It is an excellent use for this ‘brown-field’ site,” he said.

The district council’s archaeological planning and conservation officer called the application “a very effective re-use of the heritage asset, in character with the innovative technological history of the site”.

Westcott airfield began life as a training base for World War II Lancaster bomber crews, and became a repatriation facility for prisoners of war. Later it was used for rocket research.

Rod Mordey, Head of UK Asset Management at Rockspring Property Investment Managers, said: “This flagship project underlines Rockspring’s commitment to sustainability and will greatly assist with our long term goal of powering Westcott with 100% renewable energy.”

Ownergy is an end-to-end provider of renewable energy solutions, from feasibility and design, procurement and management, through to delivery, system maintenance and tariff management. The service is aimed at ensuring that customers maximise their returns under the Feed-In Tariffs and the Renewable Heat Incentive.

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