Thurrock Council has decided to invest £15 million in a new Swindon Solar Park, it has been announced.

The council will join Warrington and Newham Councils in investing millions of funds in the 172-acre site made up of 231,600 solar panels.

The solar farm will be one of the largest solar projects in the UK, with the investment made through Rockfire Capital.

A spokesman said the council had been exploring more “inventive” ways of treasury management in recent years.

The investment would add greater stability to council forecasts, they added.

Thurrock’s Portfolio Holder for Finance Councillor Shane Hebb, said people in Thurrock could “rest assured we are looking after their money.”

Mr Hebb said: “Thurrock is a pro revenue generating council and this is exactly the sort of project we want to be involved with.

“We will continue to look for similar opportunities and invest when the advice says we will get a good return for residents.”

“Not only are we looking after people’s money, we are also doing our bit to help protect the environment by reducing the amount of carbon produced by burning fossil fuels."

But councillors criticised the decision to put taxpayer's money into the project at a former airfield outside Wroughton.

Ukip’s shadow finance portfolio holder Jack Duffin said he was “deeply disappointed” with the decision, and accused the Tories of using Thurrock taxpayer money to hike up energy prices.

Councillor Duffin said: “This investment is deeply unethical. Energy generated in this way is expensive and it is a fact that the 'green energy' agenda has pushed millions of working households into fuel poverty.”

"A new Fuel Poverty grant should be set up in Thurrock in which half these profits will be ring fenced and spent on helping the poorest people harmed by this ill-considered energy policy.”

Thurrock Labour leader Councillor John Kent also accused the council of forgetting their promise to make decisions with "scrutiny."

Mr Kent said: “Once again Tory Thurrock Council seem to have forgotten all the things they promised before taking office.

“How do we know how much this is costing us? I understand it is £15 million, where is that money coming from - is it through increased borrowing?

“While, as I said, this could well prove a great investment, we don’t know that for sure and I fear Mr Hebb’s latest slogan will be: hide it, spend it, waste it.”

The council said the project had been chosen based on a number of factors, including the investment being ethical, asset-backed, supported by external advice and due diligence.