Whitehead landfill restoration, Green Earth Developments, c Google Earth

The proposed solar farm would occupy most of the space that currently shows as dirt on the photo, with much of the existing greenery on the site to be retained. Credit: Google Earth

Wigan landfill could become solar powerhouse

Green Earth Developments has lodged plans to transform part of the Whitehead waste site into a solar farm capable of exporting enough energy to power more than 2,850 homes a year.

The photovoltaic panels would take up 52 acres of the 291-acre former landfill, which sits by Astley Green village and straddles both the Wigan and Salford borders. Most of the site is in Wigan, and the local authority is expected to take the lead in determining Green Earth’s application.

Once operational, the solar farm would help meet close to a quarter of Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s target of a 45MW increase in renewable energy generation, according to Green Earth. The developer added that with an export capacity of 10MW it could lead to the offset of more than 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The energy generated from the solar farm would be able to be stored using a battery energy storage system on site and exported to the National Grid as needed. The solar farm would be able to connect to the National Grid using the existing connection used by former landfill’s gas utilisation engines.

Green Earth estimates the solar farm would have an operational life of 40 years. At that point, the developer said it would dismantle the panels and make the site green again.

But in the meantime, it has ambitions to raise the biodiversity of the site with the help of Avian Ecology. The planning application for the solar farm, submitted by Sirius Planning, includes provision for footpaths and the retention and expansion of woodland, native scrub, and grassland.

“This project aligns perfectly with our mission at Green Earth, re-building nature and re-powering communities,” said Simon Towers, co-chairman of the Wigan-based Green Earth.

“We are grateful to have a long-lasting and trusting relationship with the local community at Astley and this project will ensure that this continues for decades to come.”

The planning application had not been validated on Wigan Council’s planning portal at the time of publication.

Solar farms are having a busy season in the North West.

Oldham Council is inviting tenders for a £1.2m contract to build a 1MW solar farm at Wrigley Head in Failsworth.

Earlier this month, Rochdale Council turned on its 5.5MW solar farm at Chamber House in Heywood.

And then over in Liverpool, Peel Ports group and E.ON have partnered  to install 63,000 solar panels on the roofs of 26 buildings at the Port of Liverpool – capable of generating up to 31MW of energy.

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