Prison solar scheme gets a green light

Kamran Khan, 39, began blackmailing the man at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, in 2018

Kamran Khan, 39, began blackmailing the man at HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, in 2018. - Credit: Archant

Littlehey Prison is set to play a pioneering part in cuts to government carbon emissions  by installing an array of solar panels in its grounds.

The scheme will generate electricity solely for the use of the prison, at Perry, and will reduce its minimum daily power load by an estimated 75 per cent, or by a 14.5 per cent cut in total energy use over a year.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which is responsible for Littlehey, said the move was key in reducing carbon emissions from the second largest government estate.

Huntingdonshire District Council has agreed a certificate of lawful development for the panels which, as Crown land, would not require a normal planning application.

But Perry Parish Council said the land in question had been farmed and said there should have been more public consultation.

The parish said: "First it should be remembered that HMP Littlehey is situated on the edge of Perry and in very close proximity to houses.

"The field in the application is part of a larger area of agricultural land that has been farmed for over 30 years with no prison use during that time. Given the public interest that there already has been in this proposal we would have thought the council would have exercised its judgement and consulted locally on the application."

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A planning statement  on behalf of the MoJ said: "The proposed panels will provide energy solely for the operational prison with the objective of reducing mains energy usage and offsetting carbon emissions.

"This is a significant driver for the MoJ as the second largest central government estate, accounting for more than 20 per cent of central Government’s total greenhouse gas emissions, which must be reduced to assist the UK government meet its net zero target."

It said: "The proposed development is the first of its prison sites that will benefit from this important initiative. By investing in renewable energies the MoJ can reduce their energy consumption at Littlehey by up to 14.5% annually, thus contributing towards the national priority to move towards net zero carbon."

Planners concluded that the land was being held for operational purposes.