A Northumberland County councilor has had councilors approve plans for solar panels to power his home due to the cost of living crisis.
Councilor Richard Dodd, who represents the ward of Ponteland North, has applied for permission to install a low-level stand-alone photovoltaic generator on his farm near Belsay.
Due to Earl Dodd being a county councillor, the application had to be submitted to the council’s strategic planning committee. To complicate matters further, Coun Dodd himself is a member of the committee, meaning he had to leave the room while the request was decided.
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Speaking at the meeting in support of the bid, Rachel Dodd said: “As you know, we are currently in the midst of an energy crisis, a climate emergency and the rising cost of life.
“The property is currently oil and electricity dependent and therefore highly dependent on fossil fuels. This proposal will help the household become more energy, environmental and economic sustainable.”
Miss Dodd also explained that the proposal would use recycled materials including railway sleepers and crushed railway ballast, and that the solar panels would be floor mounted so could be removed at any time.
She added that the environmental benefits would outweigh any harm caused by the opening of the green belt.
Councilor Barry Flux backed the bid and said: “In other parts of the country you’ll see big solar farms. Maybe you’ll see them in Northumberland and what happens, I have no doubt that you will see apps like in these areas which will have the discussions about its desirability.
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“It’s much, much smaller than those developments and it will be interesting to see if more of those developments come up. I think we could well see a lot more in this area.”
Councilor Lyle Darwin added: “I think it’s more of an example project. It’s very in tune with the area and it won’t be overbearing. I think it’s very well placed.
“It’s a great example of what we should strive to recommend. I think it’s a great app.”
The committee, made up of advisers from all parties, approved the plan unanimously.