Going green: former landfill sites could be transformed into solar farms

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter

FORMER landfill sites in Denton and Hyde could be transformed into solar farms under new plans to use Greater Manchester council-owned sites to generate green energy.

In Tameside, Ruby Street, Denton, and Victoria Street, Hyde, are among four areas of land that are deemed too contaminated to be used for development but have been proposed to house solar panels.

Initially, 13 sites in Tameside were put forward by officers but this was narrowed down to four following further investigations of the land. The other two are at Guide Lane, Audenshaw, and Woolley Lane, Hollingworth.

The plans are part of an ambitious Greater Manchester Combined Authority initiative – ‘Go Neutral’ which aims to make the region carbon neutral by 2038.

It was unveiled at Mayor Andy Burnham’s second Greater Manchester Green Summit in March.

But the proposals for Tameside were outlined prior to the summit at a meeting of the council’s carbon and waste reduction panel.

Christina Morton, environmental development officer, told members: “This project is looking at areas of council-owned land that could be taken forward for installing low or zero carbon technologies.

“What they asked us for was to look at land with limited or no plans for development, so that’s ex-landfill sites or heavily contaminated areas of land we own that we wouldn’t necessarily have in line for developing.

“And the aim of the project is initially to create a body of investment opportunity, so to create a portfolio of low and zero carbon technologies and a prospectus basically of sites across Greater Manchester that can be launched at the green summit.

“And in the longer term the aim is to reduce emissions.”

She added that to achieve the plan they need to deliver around 40 megawatts of renewable energy in four years across Greater Manchester.

This amount of green energy would potentially be able to power tens of thousands of homes.

Ms Morton added they are ‘not short of assets’ across the region that could accommodate low carbon infrastructure.

“Obviously there are benefits to us for this type of project, there is revenue we can generate and there is cost avoidance so there are opportunities for the electricity that’s generated to be possibly sold on to industry, if it’s located next to one of the sites,” she said.

“Or we’ve got possibly private wire and we could use it across our own corporate estate to reduce our own energy bills, which are fairly high.”

If the project proves to be successful and cost efficient, they can’t rule out expanding to other sites, she said.

Solar is just one of the options proposed for these types of contaminated land across Greater Manchester; battery storage and electrical charging points could also be installed.

Alison Lloyd-Walsh, head of environmental development at Tameside Council, said: “The contaminated sites would be the ones that would cause less controversy.

“There’s nothing else we can do with those sites because of the level of contamination that’s around.

“We want this to be successful from the go-get, you can actually enhance a site as well by putting solar on it – you could do tree planting, landscaping.”

The town hall has also revealed that they will be procuring a green energy supplier for their electricity contract when the current contract ends this month. This would be 100 per cent renewable energy, officers say.

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