MP powers up Windermere holiday park harvesting sunbeams to produce green energy

Tim Farron MP (centre) with park owners Susan and Derek Dickson who will now be generating up to 70% of Park Cliffe’s energy from sunbeams

CUMBRIA MP TIM FARRON has officially pressed the starter button on an ambitious new green energy project at a Windermere holiday park, Park Cliffe.

Representing a £200,000 investment by the family business, it features over 200 high-efficiency solar panels which will save 21 tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere each year.

That, says the park, is an environmental gain equivalent to planting 970 trees.

The system, known as a solar array, will generate around 100Kw of power, and is designed to produce electricity even on the most overcast of days.

Prior to the switch-on, Mr Farron met with husband-and-wife team Susan and Derek Dickson who have sited the array on a south-facing section of Park Cliffe’s camping area.

Virtually invisible from public roads, the couple have built 40 metres of traditional willow fencing around the area to provide additional screening – and planted an adjacent wildflower meadow.

The array is capable of providing up to 70% of the park’s electricity needs, and is supported by a substantial 60w battery storage facility.

It means that when the supply of solar power outstrips requirements on the park, electricity can be saved and drawn on during other periods of higher demand.

Unveiling a plaque to commemorate the opening of the project, Mr Farron said that Park Cliffe was sending out an important message to other firms in Cumbria:

“This is the latest in a series of initiatives by Park Cliffe to reduce their impact on the environment, and it shows beyond doubt that going green is good for business,” he said.

“Being sustainable is an investment in the future, and a way to help ensure long-term profitability by being a part of how we are all having to adapt to new challenges.

“Businesses like Park Cliffe are also playing a role in educating the millions of people who visit Cumbria each year about the importance of facing up to climate change,” said Mr Farron.

Guests at the official opening, who included (front) Gill Haigh, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, gather in front of the solar panels on the park

Susan and Derek, who bought Park Cliffe just over 15 years ago, say have always tried to run their business along sustainable lines – and this was a another major step along that journey:

“Once you start looking, there’s so much that can be done to reduce a business’s dependence on fossil fuels and to protect the natural world,” said Mrs Dickson.

“We were one of the first Cumbrian tourism businesses to ban single-use plastics, and have made the switch to non-polluting all-electric vehicles around the grounds.

“We’ve also championed local suppliers in our café and park shop to reduce food miles, and introduced low-level lighting so that guests can enjoy the night sky.

“Derek and I are also proud to hold the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level for our various initiatives to protect wildlife and indigenous plant species.

“It was great to be able to welcome Tim Farron to switch on our new solar array, and we’re eagerly awaiting seeing our park being powered largely by sunbeams!” she added.

Set in 25 acres of countryside above the shores of Windermere, Park Cliffe provides holiday homes to rent and own, glamping facilities, and pitches for tents, touring caravans and motorhomes.

There is more information about the park at www.parkcliffe.co.uk