10 things to know about the Council’s solar park proposals

Published: Friday, 28th October 2016

Havering Council is paving the way for a greener future as it proposes to develop solar parks in Gerpins Lane in Corbets Tey, and the land adjacent to Dagnam Park, in Harold Hill.

sOLAR FARM

The borough could become the capital’s first council to generate income of up to £1 million a year from renewable energy, which could help to reduce the council’s running costs, and help towards funding crucial frontline services.

There have been a number of questions regarding this initiative and as a result, Havering Council has launched frequently asked questions (FAQs) to eliminate myths, provide further information, and ensure residents are well informed.

The council has also launched a video in response to these enquiries. The footage includes Councillor Osman Dervish, Cabinet Member for Environment who speaks about the proposals and highlights the benefits solar parks will provide if developed in the borough.

Councillor Osman Dervish, said:

“This initiative is an innovative way for us to generate consistent income to maintain and fund the future of our local services in the borough. If it goes ahead, and will only go ahead with public support, Havering could become London’s first, and the UK’s second council to generate income of up to £1 million a year from renewable energy.

“The development of solar parks could offer benefits to residents of Havering and have a positive impact on the biodiversity of each of the locations. Wildlife will still have enough land to wander and you can find out more about this in the frequently asked questions.”

Here’s what residents wanted to know:

1. What exactly is a Solar Park?

A solar park or solar farm is a dual use area which houses solar panels used to generate clean, green electricity.

2. Will the solar park harm the deer in Dagnam Park?

If these proposals go ahead wildlife including deer will still continue to roam freely.

3. Will a Solar Park have a negative effect on the ecology of the local area?

If these proposals go ahead, a carefully designed solar park actually has a positive impact on the ecology. The sowing of wild flowers and grasses beneath and around the solar panels will encourage bees, birds and insects to the area. A recent episode of the BBC’s Spring Watch programme highlighted the positive effect a solar park can have on local wildlife.

4. What about the birdlife that currently use the area?

Studies undertaken at a number of solar parks in the UK recorded increases in species of birds on or over the solar sites, compared to that on or over neighbouring land. The physical structure of the solar arrays themselves offers plenty of perches for birds, visiting, or passing through.

5. If it’s such a good investment why doesn’t the Council just put solar panels on its buildings?

We have. Nine Council buildings already have solar panels installed on their roofs. In fact the Town Hall was one of the first Town Halls in the UK to do so.

6. Will residents be able to invest in these initiatives?

The Council is looking at the possibility of issuing Havering Solar Bonds to allow the public to invest alongside the council.

7. What will the solar parks look like?

If these proposals go ahead, the solar parks will include solar panels mounted one metre above the ground. The height from the bottom of the solar panel to the top is approximately 1.7 metres (5 ½ feet).

8. What impact will the proposed solar parks have on the local landscape?

A good solar project is designed to have limited visual impact and a positive environmental impact. A solar park creates no noise or waste and requires little maintenance. The Council will work with local ecologists and planning consultants to ensure the sites are enhanced in a manner that benefits the wildlife, the environment and the local community.

9. Why is the Council developing solar parks?

Solar parks present a unique and innovative opportunity for the Council to generate a long term income to help provide and maintain local services.

10. Lastly, residents need to know that they can have their say.

The consultation period that opened early this month (October) has been extended until Monday 14 November 2016. Residents can email comments to energystrategy@havering.gov.uk or write to The Energy Strategy Team, Town Hall, Main Road, Romford, RM1 3BE.