SOLAR power is being used by Bury Council to reduce its carbon emissions and make vital cash savings.

Solar panels have been installed on the roof of The Villa at the council’s Bradley Fold depot, which houses its catering services and community safety service.

Bury Council aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 35 per cent by 2014, based on 2008/09 emissions.

Solar panels are one of the actions identified in its carbon management plan. The estimated carbon saving from this project alone is 1.8 tonnes a year, enough to fill four double decker buses.

The panels were installed in early December, just days before the deadline passed to take advantage of a higher rate Feed In Tariff. Under this scheme, the Government offers payments for every unit of solar electricity generated. While the solar panels cost £11,287 to install, they will provide an income and savings of £1,600 per year, which means that the scheme will pay for itself in seven years. After that, the council will make a guaranteed, inflation-linked profit for the remaining 17 years of the “Feed in Tariff” scheme.

Council chiefs say The Villa will also save money on bills and receive further income by selling any surplus electricity to the National Grid.

Cllr Tony Isherwood, executive member for environment and economy, said: “It’s not often you have a win-win situation, but this is certainly one. The project is good for the environment, and good for local taxpayers.

“Although the Government is looking at reducing tariff levels this year, solar panels are still expected to provide a reasonable return on investment and deliver a significant reduction in carbon emissions, so we will be considering installing them at other council buildings.”