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Our largest depot to make switch to solar power

Published March 23, 2021 10.04am

A County Durham depot will become a low carbon site thanks to an £8.3 million scheme which will see a large-scale solar farm built to power its services.

We received £5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to carry out a major retrofit at our Morrison Busty depot, in Annfield Plain.

Supporting this project with an additional £3.3 million from its own Invest to Save fund, we will use the £8.3 million to create a three-megawatt solar farm to power the whole depot, including new electric vehicle charge points for the council's transition to electric vehicles in its fleet.

The solar farm will reduce the carbon emissions of the site's buildings by replacing natural gas heating with air source heat pumps, and innovative battery storage will ensure as much solar generation will be used on site as possible.

Main office buildings will also be refurbished with new cladding, windows, and doors to improve energy efficiency and will have all lights replaced with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Supporting climate plan 

Following a climate emergency declared in 2019, this project supports our Climate Emergency Response Plan and its pledge to reduce carbon emissions from our operations by 80 per cent by 2030 and become a carbon neutral county by 2050.

Morrison Busty's retrofit will save more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and reduce our total emissions by up to four per cent.

Site history 

The depot started life as the Morrison Busty Colliery in the 1920s, accessing coal seams in Townley, Busty and Brockwell. It reached peak production in 1948 and almost 2,000 people were employed before the colliery closed in 1973.

Today, the depot serves the entirety of North Durham with equipment stores and our fleet for household waste collections, clean and green, road maintenance and street lighting.

The site also has a Household Waste Recycling Centre, waste transfer centre and horticultural nursery.

Reducing emissions 

Cllr Carl Marshall, our Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "I am delighted that we have secured £5 million from the ERDF to carry out a major retrofit to our Morrison Busty depot which will significantly reduce CO2 emissions as it becomes a low carbon site. This project will be a national showcase of how a depot can be transformed to substantially reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and even supplying renewable energy to the grid.

"By making energy efficiency improvements and switching to more sustainable sources of power, we are not only reducing carbon emissions in our own operations but also reducing emissions for the whole county, in line with our ambition to become carbon neutral by 2050 and tackle climate change."

Find out more about the our response to climate change

Icon for pdf Transcript: Morrison Busty Depot ERDF funding announcement (PDF, 77.7kb)