Mansfield District Council debates solar panels plan

NMAC11-2477-1'Bonington Road, Mansfield, which might be benefitting from a Council solar panel scheme.

NMAC11-2477-1'Bonington Road, Mansfield, which might be benefitting from a Council solar panel scheme.

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COUNCIL houses across Mansfield could get solar panels to generate power and cut bills under a £750,000 plan.

The district council is proposing to take advantage of Government rules designed to encourage the installation of green technology.

But a final decision on the plan, which would see around 90 homes fitted with the panels, was put back last week.

If finally approved the council would arrange for the technology to be fitted to the roofs of suitable council homes at no cost to tenants.

The plan could slash tenants’ energy bills by generating a percentage of their power as well as generating money for the council and cutting carbon emissions.

The authority met at a full council meeting last Tuesday and was expected to make a final decision on the idea.

But after a debate the council elected to send it back to a committee for further information.

Coun Adrian Harpham backed a call from Labour colleague John Kerr to have the matter referred back to a select commission.

He said not enough detail had been provided on the types of homes eligible and more examination was needed for the council to make a decision.

“It seems as though it’s been rushed through because time is running out,” he said.

“It’s difficult to endorse a proposal that there’s very little detail to.”

A current ‘Feed in Tariff’, meaning energy firms pay a set amount to councils who create their own power through renewable means, is expected to be cut.

The current rate of 43.3p per kilowatt will only apply to installations completed before March 2012. Any cash received by the authority under the scheme is expected to be re-invested in similar plans.

Some councillors claimed the delay on a decision was unnecessary and may put the project at risk.

In a statement after the meeting, members of the council’s Independent Forum said: “We feel it was a pity that council could not wholeheartedly embrace this project.

“With no firm decision being made, delay could put the scheme in jeopardy and a great opportunity to help our tenants cut their energy bills may be missed.”

Members voted to send the plans back to select commission with a caveat that it must be back for a decision at full council again on 1st November.