COUNCILS are being urged to green-light civic solar schemes as one local authority approves a landmark power project.

On Tuesday, North Ayrshire Council’s administration voted to build an eco-friendly £6.7 million solar photovoltaic (PV) farm on a former landfill site to tackle fuel poverty and reduce the region’s carbon footprint.

It’s hoped the Nethermains scheme will meet more than one third of the council’s current energy needs. The Labour administration will use the clean power to run its facilities at a “greatly reduced cost” in partnership with a licensed electricity third-party supplier to power. Sales to the grid could also bring in cash for the public coffers.

Estimates suggest the total net income from the solar farm could reach £12.8 million over a 20-year period, with approximately £2.27m allocated to community benefit projects.

The change comes after the council committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Harmful emissions have fallen by almost one-third in the past five years and consideration of a second solar farm is now underway, with input from Strathclyde University.

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Now Scottish Renewables, a national green power sector body, has backed the initiative, telling the Sunday National that other councils should use their assets to generate eco rewards.

Senior policy manager Helen Melone said: “It will surprise many that the electricity generation potential of a solar PV array in Scotland is very similar to the rest of the UK – solar technology relies on daylight, not on sunlight, putting Scotland firmly on the map for using this cheap, green energy.

“North Ayrshire Council has taken the development of solar to another level with a commitment to ensure this scheme not only powers their own buildings but also provides an affordable electricity supply to reduce fuel poverty.

“Innovative schemes like this are to be commended and we look forward to seeing other local authorities follow this lead and utilise the full solar potential of the rooftops and land which they own.”

North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “The climate emergency is an existential threat to our planet that requires urgent action to be taken, at all levels of government, across the globe to rapidly cut carbon emissions. Here in North Ayrshire we have a real chance to lead from the front and set the agenda.”