TOWN councillors in Bradford on Avon have agreed to install 78 solar panels on the south-facing roof of St Margaret’s Hall in Bradford on Avon.

At last week’s full town council meeting, councillors voted unanimously to go ahead with the £30,000 scheme, which it is hoped will pay for itself within seven years.

Work will start on installing the panels once planning permission has been gained from Wiltshire Council.

The plan is to contribute electricity to the National Grid as well as providing power to St Margaret’s Hall.

Cllr Alex Kay, the mayor of Bradford on Avon and chairman of the council’s Environment and Planning Committee, said: “We have had very strong and positive support from the public, including representatives of both Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust and Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon.

“It was encouraging and heart-warming to receive such support, which has spurred us on to get this through in time to take advantage of the current tariff scheme.”

“By spring next year, we are likely to be beginning to save money and, more importantly, reducing our carbon footprint with a massive 10.5 metric tonnes estimated CO2 saving per year.

Jonathan Maguire, renewable energy consultant at the council’s selected provider Solarsense, gave a presentation to the well attended full council meeting.

He said the panels to be used would be the more subtle black panels and edging in order to preserve the aesthetic of the roof.

Rosie Macgregor, of the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust, said:“We are supportive of the proposal because we have now reached a critical point beyond which the continued use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions will have an irreversible impact on global warming and climate change beyond which we face extinction of life on earth.

“Even setting aside the harm to the environment of CO2 emissions such proposals make long term economic sense

“Historic England encourages owners of buildings in conservation areas to consider ethical and economic reasons to generate their own energy from sun, wind, water and underground heat – in other words micro-generation from renewable sources.

“It is possible on a domestic dwelling to generate up to 40 per cent of the average household’s electricity needs from panels can be mounted on roofs.

“Imagine how much energy that would generate on a roof the size of St Margaret’s Hall.”

Government support for solar panel schemes expires in April next year.