A SOLAR energy farm is to be built near Easingwold - to provide energy and income for a council in Cheshire.

Panels will be installed on land at Boscar Grange Farm to the east of the A19.

The power they harness will be used to help Warrington Borough Council become the first local authority in the country to produce all its own electricity from clean energy. The electricity will also be sold on the open market - and a number of other councils have already expressed an interest in buying it.

Leader of Warrington Borough Council Cllr Russ Bowden said no suitable sites for the solar panel farm were identified within the town, but there was an opportunity to build a facility near Easingwold.

He added: “It has been our ambition to develop a solar farm to supply the council with energy.

“The York facility will allow the council to generate additional energy that can be sold to other interested organisations, including other local authorities.

“There is a lot of interest emerging from other local authorities in this kind of ‘invest to save’ investment opportunity. In the face of continued government austerity cuts, councils are having to look at ways to generate income and to reduce their operating costs and Warrington has led the way with a number of creative and innovative schemes.”

Construction work is due to start at the 198-acre site near Easingwold imminently.

Hambleton District Council granted planning permission for the scheme in 2015 and it was supported by Askham Bryan College and a professor from the University of York. But some residents said the proposals were too large and would have an impact on wildlife.

Planning documents say the panels will have a “lake-like appearance” and would be at most 2.5 metres above ground.

The report says: “The areas between them would be capable of some agricultural use, with sheep grazing, bee keeping and arable production (including fruit and vegetable growing).”

They will generate about 49.9 MW of power and are expected to save Warrington Council £1 million a year on its electricity bill.

The authority has agreed to pay £62.34 million for two solar farms - a second one is near Hull - and will take ownership when they are operational. The Easingwold facility is set to open in October and, under the plans, it would be decommissioned after 30 years.