Could first Torbay solar farms give power to council's elbow in 2021?

An aerial shot of Nightingale Park in Torquay

Nightingale Park, Torquay - Credit: Google

2021 could be the year of the solar farms in Torbay as the resort looks to combat climate change. 

Two sites for potential farms have been identified - a £2.2million scheme at Nightingale Park in Torquay and a £2.75million project at Brokenbury, between Paignton and Brixham. 

The estimated total costs for the schemes are on a list of Torbay Council’s capital projects, giving the first official confirmation of the sites. 

Nightingale Park is a former waste tip near The Willows housing estate and retail centres at the north of Torquay. 

The site for the Brokenbury solar farm is believed to be a field behind the water treatment works at Churston. 

An aerial shot of Brokenbury

Brokenbury at Churston, between Paignton and Brixham - Credit: Google

The council’s cabinet has approved going ahead with the schemes, funded by borrowing under the authority’s £100million Economic Growth Fund. 

The open land at Nightingale Park is popular with dog walkers and had been proposed as the site of a new stadium for Torquay United. 

Most Read

But the club scrapped the idea in 2019 after it was effectively blocked by the council. 

A budget report to the council’s scrutiny board says significant investment in the two solar farms is expected in the next financial year. 

The board, which monitors council decisions, has welcomed the projects. 

But it says more needs to be done to tackle the Climate Emergency as spending on the solar farms makes up just five per cent of the capital programme for 2021/22. 

It has said there needs to be a “more ambitious approach” to make council buildings carbon-neutral. 

It says targets for tree-planting, rewilding and the encouragement of walking and cycling are “urgently required”. 

The recommendation to the council’s cabinet said: “The Panel felt that a more robust approach to this issue is needed if we are to progress towards our goal of a carbon neutral future.” 

The authority has declared a Climate Emergency and said it wants to become carbon neutral by 2030, ahead of the Government target of 2050. 

Both solar farms would need planning permission. 

The cabinet has been told Nightingale Park could generate up to 3 megawatt-hours of electricity – enough to supply around 900 homes.