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14 February 2014, 17:33
Controversial plans to create two energy parks on Peterborough farmland look likely to be put on hold.
Peterborough City Council is recommending there are more talks with farmers and residents about putting large numbers of solar panels at Morris Fen and Newborough.
A report would then be brought back in March.
However the authority plans to push ahead with a similar project at America Farm.
Peterborough City Council is facing a £19 million gap in its 2015/16 budget.
The idea behind the renewable energy parks would be to re-invest profits into frontline services.
The report, being presented to a meeting of Cabinet on 24 February, recommends that the America Farm project be taken to a planning committee for a decision.
This would be subject to the satisfactory resolution of a number of outstanding English Heritage issues, relating to archaeology.
The council says it is ''confident a solution can be found''.
The proposed ground mounted solar panels at America Farm would generate up to 7.2 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to power approximately 7,000 homes.
Last month, the council’s Scrutiny Commission for Rural Communities questioned the cost of the project and the likely financial returns.
The Council now says that revised figures, which will be discussed by Cabinet, show the America Farm scheme alone would make a profit of between £5.2 and £5.9 million over 25 years.
Councillor David Seaton, Cabinet Member for resources said: "The renewable energy project is vital for Peterborough.
In the coming years, we face a £19 million shortfall in our budgets. The income from the three schemes will help us protect vital council services.
But, we acknowledge that not everyone is convinced by the proposals. That’s why we’ve been listening carefully to all the feedback we’ve received.
Having further meetings with farmers and residents is the right thing to do. We want proposals that are acceptable to as many people as possible.
In the meantime, I hope the America Farm scheme can proceed to the next stage where we seek formal planning permission."