The Year Round: Our plans to harness green energy

HERE at High Wolds Farm, my thoughts are turned to renewable power. On the one hand, I am strongly opposing a wind farm which would ruin the Yorkshire Wolds, in my opinion, with an industrial-scale development in this beautiful rural area, halfway between Malton and Filey.

The thought of ten 400-foot monstrosities on our doorstep is horrifying.

However, at the same time I am considering my own subsidised renewable energy scheme, in the form of solar PV panels on a chicken shed roof.

This would be a substantial project, giving us the capacity to generate all the farm's electricity needs and, when our demand is low, spare power to be sold into the grid, at the special rates the government has laid down to encourage small-scale generation from renewable sources.

The first hoops have been jumped through, which entailed having surveys done. Now we wait for planning permission.

Unlike wind turbines, I would argue, solar is not obtrusive in any way and is maintenance-free. It does, of course, have the same drawbacks as turbines in that it will only produce power at certain times, but as long as there is solar radiation – not necessarily sunshine – it will produce.

Half of our business is in broiler chickens and we had a shed collapse under the weight of snow in December, with 25,000 birds in it.

We cleared up and sold the surviving birds – at a loss, because they were not fully fattened – but have made no progress since, what with Christmas and holidays and waiting for answers from the insurance company.

We need a new building because the old one is now deemed unsafe.

This is a blow because we thought it had 20 years of life left in it, without any more capital investment.

A new building will have to have all the latest equipment and we are not sure if the insurance will cover the full cost.

That is all due to be discussed as I sign off for now.

CW 29/1/11