Cornwall Council is moving ahead with the construction of Kernow Solar Park, the first council-owned solar farm of its size in the UK.

Plans to develop this pioneering project were first considered by the Council in 2010 but the authority was forced to postpone its plans in the autumn of 2011 following the Government ’s decision to change the Feed in Tariff (FiT).

During this period of delay part of the original budget was redirected to develop smaller-scale rooftop solar projects – with the Council successfully installing 1.6 megawatts of panels on a number of Council owned libraries, schools, leisure centres and offices in just four months.

These rooftop solar projects are now saving 800 tonnes of carbon every year - the equivalent of 1.5 per cent of the Council’s carbon footprint. The business case was kept under review, however, and the recent drop in the price of large-scale solar panels means that the project can now proceed.

The scheme will see the development of a 5 Megawatt solar park on a site near to Newquay Cornwall airport, producing an initial income of around £700,000 per year and enough power to run 1,000 homes.

Local Cornwall Councillor John Fitter said “the plan is for the solar park to supply power to the national grid, but also directly to the Council owned Newquay Airport. This will help to reduce the Airport’s carbon footprint and save money.”

Julian German, the Council’s portfolio holder for Localism, Sustainability and Devolution, said “Kernow Solar Park is a tangible demonstration of the Council’s tenacity and leadership. We are leading the way with our own development, showing full commitment to our Green Cornwall Strategy. This single project will generate renewable electricity equivalent to almost 5 per cent of the Council’s carbon footprint.”

Newquay Cornwall Airport MD, Al Titterington, said “The power supplied from the solar farm will greatly assist the Airport’s aspiration to make our operations carbon neutral, helping us to become one of the UK’s greenest airports. We are current working towards certification through the Airports Council International (ACI) Carbon Accreditation Scheme and being able to source our electricity directly from the solar farm will dramatically reduce our emissions.”