Green energy and educational opportunities at new innovation park on former Elstow landfill site

SEMLEP’s site visit to Bedford Green Technology & Innovation Park

1,800 solar panels are being installed at a new green innovation park that is transforming a former landfill site in Elstow, Bedfordshire.

The Bedford Green Technology and Innovation Park will sit on a 30-hectare site and is planned to be completed in early 2022.

Work has commenced on the site after Bedford Borough Council was awarded more than £1.8million from the South East Midlands Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) Getting Building Fund last year, enabling plans for the all-new Bedford Green Technology and Innovation Park to become a reality.

Work to cap the closed 30-hectare site with clay began last year and the 1,800 solar panels will generate and supply onsite buildings and local businesses with low carbon, clean energy.

Construction teams are on site and at work and to date 120,000 tonnes of materials have been brought onto the site for the capping works, now underway. Once the capping works are completed a platform will be formed for the installation of the solar panels.

It is planned to use the site as an education and training centre, with support already pledged by the University of Bedfordshire, Cranfield University and local colleges.

Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive of SEMLEP, said: “It’s so exciting to see this former landfill site being transformed into such an innovative energy park.

“We look forward to the Park generating green, low carbon, clean energy in Bedfordshire, encouraging others to reduce carbon emissions, adopt innovative technologies and improve air quality.”

Bedford’s Green Party councillors welcomed the news. Cllr Lucy Bywater said: “This is good news in terms of generating low carbon energy but especially in terms of local education and innovation.

“We need the Council to not just be setting an example with renewable energy use but also leading the way in creating quality jobs and skills in a low carbon economy. In addition, I think there are really important ways in which the Council can make it easier for local people to reduce their own energy use such as through home energy efficiency advice.”

Cllr Ben Foley said: “We look forward to seeing more Council work with local universities and businesses especially in tackling the many environmental challenges we face: the council itself is only directly responsible for 2% of emissions in the borough, and we need to deal with the other 98% too: the council can do a lot to set the framework there.”

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “This is a really exciting project, creating green energy at a former landfill and creating jobs right here in Bedford Borough.”

He said that Bedford Borough Council has consistently worked to lead the way on tackling climate change, working towards a target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

He said, “This site will give more local businesses the option to use low carbon, clean energy.”

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