Sheep keep grass in check on hospital solar panel farm

The traditional maintenance solution came about when Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust approached a local shepherding family.

Now 51 sheep are happily munching away among the 11,000 panel field opposite the hospital which generates all its power since construction was completed in February.

Alex Best, Head of Capital for the Trust said: “The idea came about by chance, after we started looking at ways of cutting the grass between the rows of solar panels.

“We approached a number of landscapers for ideas on how we could manage the grass cutting, both mechanically and sustainably, and this felt like the perfect solution; keeping the grass down naturally and reducing our carbon footprint.

“It ties in perfectly with our ethos of sustainability and supporting our local community, and the costs involved are extremely competitive at just one sixth of what it would cost us to cut the grass mechanically.

“We intended the field to become an area of natural biodiversity, and the natural approach to maintaining the land we’re now taking only enhances this.”

Grant Bailey and his brother Ollie, both from Cottingham, helped to bring the family’s sheep up to their new stomping ground. Grant, who runs GMB Mini Tool Hire, also maintains the lower field on behalf of the Trust.

Grant said: “We needed somewhere for our sheep to go and within a couple of days of chatting to Alex, we were talking about how we could make it work.

“We knew of the solar field but hadn’t actually thought about it as an option. Now the sheep are here, they seem really happy and it’s great to have found a solution to both our needs without having to have looked outside the village.”

Grant and Ollie check on the sheep twice a day to make sure they’re all okay.

The sheep are secured within the field with plenty of space to roam, while 21 rows of solar panels and the surrounding trees provide plenty of shade to cool down when the weather gets hot.

And there’s no risk of supply cables being nibbled either; the panels are mounted high enough to be out of reach of curious faces and the cables are protected in hard plastic as they reach the ground to keep both the solar farm and its occupants safe.

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