LONG Sutton’s solar farm has been revealed to be one of five developments helping to bring £52million of investment into the East Midlands and East Anglia.
The project at the Butterfly and Wildlife Park went online last Thursday and was finished with just two weeks to spare before a change in Government-funded financial incentives takes effect.
The two fields of panels will provide enough energy to power about 800 homes through the National Grid.
It has been built by solar developer Lightsource and financed by small investors through funds managed by London-based Octopus Investments.
Lightsource chief executive Nicholas Boyle said: “These installations make East Anglia and the East Midlands the most important regions for solar power generation.
“The clean, renewable and reliable power they produce will make an important contribution to the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
“Getting these sites online before the August 1 deadline was a considerable achievement and it is a real credit to our teams. It was certainly a race against time.”
It is hoped work to finish the site, including landscaping and installing security measures, will be completed by the autumn.
Larger solar sites have also been developed at Marston in Lincolnshire, Hawton in Nottinghamshire, Wilburton in Cambridgeshire, and Beccles in Suffolk.
Long Sutton Butterfly and Wildlife Park director Peter Smeaton said: “The timescale was three years to get all of the site developed and then the Government made an announcement in February, which changed it from three years to five months. From that point it was either get the job completed by the end of July or have nothing.
“Once South Holland District Council were aware of that, they were extremely supportive throughout the planning process. As a consequence we were able to get the investment and get it delivered with two weeks to spare.”
He added: “The dry weather enabled us to get on with the work. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience of noise and disruption to our neighbours during that time.
Mr Smeaton says further plans for the park are on the drawing board and will be submitted to the district council in the next three months.