Wyken Hall’s owner floats novel solar power project

An artist's impression showing where the panels will float. Wyken Vineyards and Leaping Hare restaurant are bottom left ANL-151231-125234001
An artist's impression showing where the panels will float. Wyken Vineyards and Leaping Hare restaurant are bottom left ANL-151231-125234001
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A conservationist land owner hopes to hide a 150kW solar power installation by floating it on his farm’s irrigation reservoir.

Sir Kenneth Carlisle, who owns Wyken Hall, Stanton, has applied for planning permission for the installation as a first step towards seeing if is viable.

The plan is to float three 19m by 30m photo-voltaic panels on a reservoir near the estate’s popular Wyken Vineyards and Leaping Hare restaurant. As well as supplying the National Grid, it will power the farm’s irrigation pumps.

Sir Kenneth said: “It’s a relatively new idea and the technology has been developing. For anyone interested in green energy, it could make sense – the advantage is it’s unseen by the public because it’s below the banks of the reservoir.

“It doesn’t cover the whole reservoir because it has to go down as the water is used for irrigation in summer, so you have open water available for the birds.”

The former Suffolk Wildlife Trust trustee added: “The most valuable part for wildlife is round the edges where there are reeds and plants.”

However, they do not yet have detail worked out, like how they will stop waterfowl using the panels as floating nest sites.

Sir Kenneth said the project is at ‘a very early stage’ but they wanted to get planning permission before going any further into it.

“It’s a big investment so we want to have permission so if we decide to go ahead in the future we can,” he said. “We have an idea of cost but the support for green energy is changing so we have to see whether we want to go for it.

“It’s an interesting development but we’ve still got to assess whether it’s a worthwhile investment.”