Heated row sparked by solar scheme breakdown

Roger Helmer MEP, East Midlands, addresses a meeting of farrmers opposing the building a solar panel park near  Newborough. Pictured at The Rose and Crown, Thorney.
Roger Helmer MEP, East Midlands, addresses a meeting of farrmers opposing the building a solar panel park near Newborough. Pictured at The Rose and Crown, Thorney.
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A solar power scheme sited on the roof of a former factory site in Peterborough is not working properly, it has been revealed.

Although the scheme on top of the former Freemans factory in Ivatt Way, Westward, was installed more than a year ago, technicians have not been able to make it work.

Peterborough City Council owned land around the A1073 Masons Bridge junction, which has been earmarked for a Solar panel energy park. Photo:  Paul Franks

Peterborough City Council owned land around the A1073 Masons Bridge junction, which has been earmarked for a Solar panel energy park. Photo: Paul Franks

In addition, the Peterborough City Council project, which was thought by officials to be the largest of its kind in the country, has been substantially scaled down.

Instead of a 1.5mw scheme the venture has been reduced to 200kw because of siting difficulties with the roof.

It is understood the council has paid about £500,000 for the scheme and is still in talks with the contractors about making the system work.

Yet news of the difficulties comes just a week after council leader Councillor Marco Cereste declined to give details about the performance of the Freemans scheme to other councillors.

He had been asked about the revenue gained from the Freemans scheme but told members the issue was commercially sensitive and details could not be divulged in order to protect the local authority’s interests.

Yesterday, he told the Peterborough Telegraph: “I stand by what I said to council. I have been advised by the council’s legal team that to comment on this would be to compromise the interests of the local authority and public.

“I am protecting the public purse.”

A council spokesman said; “The council has had photovoltaic (solar) panels installed successfully on a number of sites across the city, including the Town Hall, Key Theatre, Regional Pool and a number of schools, all of which are operational.

“Solar panels have also been installed on a small proportion of the roof space on the Freemans building.

However we are not yet satisfied that the installation is working as was intended.

“Further work is underway and both parties have been working together to understand the issues in order to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.

“As we have previously advised, in order not to prejudice the legal and commercial negotiations with the contractor, we are unable to provide further details at the moment.”

News the scheme is not working has sparked anger among campaigners battling to stop the council turning farmland in the Newborough area into renewable energy parks using thousands of solar panels.

Cllr Mick Fletcher: “It is now time for the cover up to end and let’s have a proper statement. If we can’t get this one working right what chance have we got with a much bigger scene at Thorney and Newborough?”

Cllr David Harrington said: “We can never believe what we are told again about this issue.”

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