The largest publicly owned solar farm in Greater Manchester is ready to be switched on next month and will eventually provide enough electricity to power 2,000 homes.

The 10 hectare site, on former grazing land next to the A58 at Chamber House Farm in Heywood, has seen 10,000 ground mounted solar panels fitted in the past few months.

The electricity produced will be linked to the national grid and used to offset Rochdale Council’s energy bill, potentially saving the authority hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

The council successfully bid for £3.3m funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to make the project viable.

Construction started at the beginning of this year and the solar farm is expected to be energised in stages during December and will begin to export power early in 2024. More than 8,000 hedges, shrubs and trees have been planted at the site to increase biodiversity.

Now the panels have been mounted, the areas between the rows of panels will topped off by wildflowers.

Workers at the site, led by main contractor Vital Energi, have left two natural undisturbed areas which project managers say have already attracted never seen before birds, including lapwings.

Chamber House is the second solar farm in the borough, following the installation of one at Rochdale Leisure Centre, which helps to power the facility.

On Thursday, the site was visited by Jeff Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for clean power and consumers.

The Withington MP was joined by Elsie Blundell, who will stand for the party in the Heywood and Middleton constituency in next year’s general election.

Elsie Blundell and Labour shadow minister Jeff Smith at the soon to be operational Chamber House solar farm in Heywood

Elsie Blundell and Labour shadow minister Jeff Smith at the soon to be operational Chamber House solar farm in Heywood

Mr Smith said: “Ambitious Labour local councils like Rochdale are already leading the way with home-grown projects like the Chamber House Solar Farm, which will help bring prosperity to Heywood and Middleton.

“Under the next Labour government, projects like this will multiply.

“Every solar panel we install will not just be about tackling the climate crisis – it will cut bills, create jobs and make Britain energy independent.”

Ms Blundell said: “Rochdale Development Agency, Vital Energi and the local tradespeople who have delivered this should be really proud.

“We need to see more of this.

“Why shouldn’t Heywood and Middleton be the place where we have good, well paid green jobs of the future?”

Vital Energi, the main contractor at the site, said other examples of the "social value" of the project have been talks and tours to schools.

They have also taken on two local apprentices and conducted mock interviews for youngsters looking to work in the clean energy sector.