DARWEN Live organisers hope to make a big impression this year by leaving a smaller carbon footprint.

The two-day festival featuring talented local musicians, will also boast Europe’s only fully solar-powered stage.

The 24ft stage will be used to showcase the borough’s youth bands at the event which runs from Sunday, May 24 to Monday, May 25.

Blackburn-born Tony Fleming, originally from Mill Hill, is the brains behind the eco stage, which has solar-charged batteries ready to back up its power if the sun isn’t shining.

Tony, 48, who now lives in Cornwall with wife Tracey and their family has been living a green lifestyle for more than a decade.

The couple started out by running a house-hold on and promoting renewable energy.

“We got into renewable energy at Glastonbury in 1994 after we bought our first panels second hand from the festival – we’ve never looked back,” he said.

He now has a solar powered home, office and workshop and sells his surplus to the national grid.

“We’ve brought two kids up using renewable energy and started using it before it was main stream,” he said.

“We got into it by necessity after we bought a piece of land in Cornwall and began living a green lifestyle.”

The dad-of-three, who runs Southwest Solar Solutions, came up with the idea for a solar-powered stage after attending festivals and seeing stages powered by ‘noisy generators’.

Tony’s stage is towed by a truck, which runs on vegetable oil and hydrogen gas and is fitted with nine solar panels.

They generate enough electricity to run a PA system and lighting rig plus all the energy he needs for his living accommodation inside the truck.

Just under two kilowatts can be produced in peak sunlight but energy is produced whatever the weather.

“For the Darwen Live event they’ve got three stages so in theory we’re cutting their carbon emissions by a third,” added Tony.

“It gives a really good message out for Blackburn and Darwen that they’re doing something about carbon emissions.”