Switch to be flicked on Greater Manchester’s biggest solar farm which will produce enough electricity to power 2,000 homes

Date published: 17 November 2023

The largest publicly owned solar farm in Greater Manchester is ready to be switched on next month and will eventually provide enough electricity to power 2,000 homes.

The 10-hectare site, on former grazing land next to the A58 at Chamber House Farm in Heywood, has seen 10,000 ground-mounted solar panels fitted in the past few months.

The electricity produced will be linked to the national grid and used to offset Rochdale Council’s energy bill, potentially saving the authority hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

The council successfully bid for £3.3m funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to make the project viable.

Construction started at the beginning of this year and the solar farm is expected to be energised in stages during December and will begin to export power early in 2024. More than 8,000 hedges, shrubs and trees have been planted at the site to increase biodiversity.

Now the panels have been mounted, the areas between the rows of panels will topped off by wildflowers. Workers at the site, led by main contractor Vital Energi, have left two natural undisturbed areas which project managers say have already attracted never seen before birds, including lapwings.

Chamber House is the second solar farm in the borough, following the installation of one at Rochdale Leisure Centre, which helps to power the facility.

Vital Energi, the main contractor at the site, said other examples of the ‘social value’ of the project have been talks and tours to schools. They have also taken on two local apprentices and conducted mock interviews for youngsters looking to work in the clean energy sector.

Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter

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