A MAJOR solar farm the size of 16 football pitches in Barrow is set to be fully operational by mid-September.

A presentation prepared for members of the communities and environment scrutiny committee for Westmorland and Furness Council has revealed that Sandscale Solar Farm should be complete by September 19.

According to the presentation, the solar farm is in line to connect to the National Grid in August and will be fully operational after all tests have been complete.

Planning for the 2MW farm was approved in March 2023 and a construction contract was awarded to Vital Energy Ltd in September 2023. The cost of the project is £2.78 million.

Councillor Peter Thornton (Kendal Strickland and Fell, Lib Dems), cabinet member for highways and assets, previously said at a cabinet meeting it was surplus council land in the Barrow area and added: “It has potential for income regeneration.”

He told the cabinet in September 2023 2MW was enough to boil ‘62 million kettles a year.’

The site will bring about reductions in carbon for the council and is expected to result in savings of around 607 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per annum, said the report.

This is equivalent to planting 700,000 trees and would provide enough electricity to power the council’s five leisure centres or approximately 730 homes per year, based upon average UK households.

A report prepared for the meeting in September said: “The proposed solar farm could generate the equivalent of approximately 30% of our electricity consumed based on our benchmark consumption year of 2019/20.”

Construction started on site on March 18 with upgrades to the access track into the site with the mounting frames installed on the week commencing May 20 and the solar modules the week commencing June 10.

Part of this development includes allowance for 10 per cent biodiversity net gain, supported by a biodiversity enhancement plan which will see the council implement proposals to increase opportunities for pollinators, enhancements to woodland, hedgerows and bird and bat nesting habitats.

The proposed solar farm covers an area of approximately 11.9 ha and encompasses a field of wet meadow used for grazing cattle and sheep.