July 21 2015 Yealm Community Energy is inviting local people to a public consultation Yealm Community Energy is inviting local people to a public consultation to find out more about its plans for a community-owned solar farm at Creacombe, near Yealmpton, Plymouth, PL8 2JA.
The consultation will be held on Thursday 30th July from 4 pm to 8 pm at Yealmpton Community and Resource Centre, Stray Park, Yealmpton, Plymouth, Devon PL8 2HF, and will provide an opportunity for local people and councillors to view the proposals and provide feedback, before a planning application is submitted.
Yealm Community Energy will also have a stall at the Yealmpton Show at Kitley on Wednesday 29th July with more information about solar energy, solar-inspired games for children, and how local people will be able to invest in the solar farm.
The proposed development is for a 5 Mega Watt peak (MWp) solar farm that would generate enough renewable electricity to supply the equivalent of 1,500 typical homes. The project is being developed by Yealm Community Energy in partnership with Gnaton Farms who own the land where the solar farm would be built.
If planning is approved, Yealm Community Energy will launch a community share offer to fund the building of the project, with local people able to invest from a low minimum stake, typically £50. While the details are yet to be decided, similar projects tend to offer an annual return of 6% to 7% over 25 years, which would normally be eligible for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) or Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), boosting prospective returns for taxpayers.
Peter Brown, Director, Yealm Community Energy, said:
“We’re very pleased to have found such a good site for a community solar farm – it is low-grade land and is very well screened with mature hedgerows, which will be managed to promote biodiversity. This is an exciting opportunity for people to invest in locally generated energy, earn a reasonable return, and have their say in how the community reinvests the income.”
Surplus revenue from operating the solar farm will go into a community benefit fund for local projects to help tackle fuel poverty, support other community energy generation initiatives and promote greater sustainability and environmental benefits for the local community. If the community were to own all 5MW of the site, it is hoped that this would generate around £1 million over the 25-year lifetime of the project.
Ray Holland, Director, Yealm Community Energy, said:
“We can make a big difference locally using the community fund from generating our own electricity, such as by funding projects to install solar on schools and community buildings, advising people on how to avoid fuel poverty, improving energy efficiency and funding electric shuttle buses”
Yealm Community Energy will also allocate £2,000 a year in funding to work with local primary and secondary schools and adult education colleges in the area to promote their understanding of climate change and renewable energy, with resources linked to the National Curriculum.
Gnaton Farms is a family enterprise which has farmed the land for 38 years and already has an excellent track record on ecology and biodiversity, including sowing many hectares of wildflower meadows and restoring ancient orchards. The farm is part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme and has already given over 55 acres to meadows for bird food and nectar. The biodiversity improvements proposed for the solar farm include sowing species-rich grasses and wildflowers around the panels to build on this further. The land will also stay in agricultural use with sheep grazing during autumn and winter.
The site is approximately 25 acres in area and is on Grade 3b farmland.