Thousands of solar panels could turn old Bedford landfill site into power plant

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Solar Power Image for illustrative purposes
Image for illustrative purposes

A part of the massive former landfill tip in Elstow will be covered in solar panels to generate 5.5 megawatts of electricity in Bedford Borough.

The Borough Council’s Planning Committee gave the go-ahead to the plan to put 12,288 dark grey photovoltaic panels on six hectares of land on the site off Wilstead Road, which will be landscaped to provide the perfect slope.

Monday’s meeting heard that it is hoped that local customers including Tarmac, Aldi and B&M would buy the electricity created, or it could be fed into the grid.

The landfill tip closed in 1998 and restoration to cover it in woodland is still happening.

Anita Taylor, a council officer, said the proposal would help speed up the restoration.

“The works will allow for the importation of around 54,000 cubic metres of clays and soils but I would just make the point that there is already an unrestricted importation allowance,” she said.

Initial objections from the Forest of Marston Vale were overcome, and neither the Environment Agency nor Elstow Parish Council had objected, she said.

The council is continuing to deal with the gunk that seeps out of the decomposing rubbish, and a declining amount of methane is used to generate electricity, the committee heard.

Cllr Towler asked what the plan was to deal with subsidence rubbish deteriorates.

The officer said any significant settling has already taken place and a stability assessment has taken place.

A one-in-seven slope is set to replace a one in five slope and provides for greater stability, she said.

Members of the committee unanimously approved two plans, to reshape the land and to put the solar panels on the site.

By David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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