Barkham Solar Farm Live Date Announced
Green renewable energy will be generated in Barkham as early as summer 2026 as Wokingham Borough Council has signed the formal agreement with Scottish and Southern Electric Networks (SSEN) guaranteeing a ‘switch on’ date for their first solar farm.
Signing this agreement means the council, and their main contractor Equans (a Bouygues group company), can move ahead with completing the site surveys and going out to tender for the solar panels, confident they will be able to connect to the national grid in two years’ time, more than a decade earlier than the 2037 they were advised of last spring.
This agreement marks the culmination of months of council lobbying for reform in the energy sector along with discussions with SSEN and the National Grid on why this important scheme should be prioritised and go ahead.
An important scheme for all
Cllr Stephen Conway, Leader of the Council, said: “This is fantastic news and reflects the work we’ve done to build strong relationships with SSEN and to demonstrate why schemes like this are so important locally. Not just in how they represent a big part of our climate emergency action plan and reducing carbon emissions locally, but in how they generate income which we can invest back into providing services for our residents.
“The past few years have also shown how reliant the UK remains on imported fossil fuels, with costs soaring due to disruption from the war in Ukraine and increased demand from other countries. By generating renewable energy locally and putting it back into the grid, schemes like this have a significant part to play in securing sustainable power supplies, stabilising the costs of energy, and helping protect residents from further cost of living crisis in the longer term.”
What happens next?
An update on the Solar Farm project plan and business case is due to be provided at the Climate Emergency Overview and Scrutiny meeting on Thursday 29 February.
Initial works over the coming months will include a series of 62 archaeological trenches dug to the south of the site, close to where the existing Greenway next to California Country Park runs. These works mark the location of the new woodlands which will be planted later in the year.
Alongside this the council and Bouygues will continue finalising the detailed layout plans, considering feedback from residents and stakeholders, ready to go out to tender for a solar panel supplier.
Main work to install the panels is expected to start in 2025 and will be carefully coordinated with other council projects taking place in the area, including the woodland and two new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) schools which are proposed for the nearby Rooks Nest Farm.
On completion the solar farm will generate enough renewable energy to power thousands of homes and businesses.