Oldham primes solar farm bid

The council wants to build a renewable energy facility on disused land at Wrigley Head in Failsworth, close to the Rochdale Canal.

The site the local authority is looking to build on is 3.7 acres and sits between the Metrolink line to the east, the canal to the west, Meadowbank Business Park to the north and an unnamed and un-adopted access road at the south.

The plans will be considered at this week’s meeting of Oldham’s planning committee.

Now vacant, historically the land had been developed but given the passage of time and vegetation recolonisation “there is little evidence of this aside from partial areas of hardstanding,” planning officers report. The site has no designation in the proposals map for Local Plan purposes.

Oldham, which is advised by Aecom, wants to construct a 0.89 MWp solar farm, with a consent to last 30 years from the first production of electricity.

The solar farm would comprise of rows of solar PV panels, numbering around 2,700 in total, laid out in an east/west orientation and facing south at approximately 20 degrees from the horizontal to maximise efficiency.

The PV panels would be mounted on racks comprising of metal poles mounted on a concrete base or a screwed pile, at a maximum height of 2.4m. Rows would be spaced at 1.85m.

Associated infrastructure would include a permanent grass geomesh vehicle access track running to the south of the site and extending the existing un-adopted road from Wrigley Head under the Metrolink line.

Within the site a new internal access road and a temporary laydown area is proposed, to be removed after construction. The site would include string inverters, combiner boards, switchgear and transformer cabin, underground cabling connecting to the National Grid, CCTV cameras, laydown area and 2.4m high boundary security fencing and access gate.

Landscaping would include the clearance of non-native birch trees, compensatory replanting and wildflower meadows that seeks to enhance the overall biodiversity on site. Enhanced tree cover is intended to remove “glint and glare” from local residents. No objections have been received.

Needing to make headway on net zero carbon targets, local authorities across the region have been advancing energy solutions. Among those pursuing solar is Salford, which mapped out plans for a 5,000+ panel facility in Little Hultin in 2020.

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Surely that would be a better place to build housing? You’ve got a metrolink stop 2 minutes away and an enormous housing shortage

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