We have so far identified two solar farm projects which can be wholly or partially owned by community members, and which can generate income to go towards a community fund.
These renewable energy projects have been selected on the basis of minimal visual and other environmental impacts. They are both sited on low grade agricultural land, and the site will have continued agricultural use and biodiversity enhancement. The land can be returned to full agricultural use at the end of the project (typically 25 years).
The two projects are: the 5 MW solar farm in Newton Ferrers (Newton Downs Farm), built by Good Energy and we are negotiating its purchase currently (see below). A further solar farm of 7.3 MW at Creacombe on the Yealmpton/Holbeton border is the subject of a current planning application and we have an option to purchase that.
Newton Downs Farm
This project was developed by Good Energy, a renewable electricity provider and was commissioned in early 2017. It has since (January 2018) been bought on our behalf by Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP (CORE) on YCE’s behalf, and we have the opportunity to buy it from them over the next three years.
The site is not visible from public roads or footpaths and will be used by the farmer for sheep grazing and for sowing varieties of grass seed and wild flowers to encourage pollinators and wildlife.
Once agreements with CORE have been completed we expect to be in a position to make a share offer for local investors (with a low minimum share holding). See the “Invest” section.
To find out more about investment opportunities or ask any other questions about the projects, please email email@example.com.
Creacombe Solar Farm
The landowner, Gnaton Farms has submitted a planning application for Creacombe solar Farm, a 7.3 MW solar farm near Yealmpton. A planning decision is imminent.
Covering a total area of 27 acres, the site is very well screened, encompassing three gently sloping fields surrounded by mature hedgerows so that it can barely be seen from local viewpoints.
The site reflects YCE’s commitment to developing projects on low-grade land, continued agricultural use, and biodiversity enhancement. The grade 3b land will be grazed by sheep under and around the solar panels in autumn and winter.
Ecology and Biodiversity
The land will also be managed to encourage wildlife and biodiversity, with the creation of species-rich wildflower meadows around the panels. Gnaton Farms is a family enterprise which has farmed the land for 42 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 incorporated into the solar farm will help to build on this good work.
The solar farm also lies within the South Devon B-Line, https://www.buglife.org.uk/campaigns-and-our-work/habitat-projects/helping-create-b-lines one of three pathways in the South of England designed to help conserve our native insect pollinators.
Surplus revenue from operating the solar farm will go into YCE’s community fund for local projects. It is hoped that this could generate a target of £1 million over the 25-year lifetime of the project – making a genuine difference to the future sustainability of the communities in and around Yealmpton.
We will also 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.
Yealm Community Energy is delighted that these projects are expected to provide opportunities for community investment.
Once planning is approved there will be a Public Share Offer to raise the funds to build the solar farm. Local people will be able to invest from a low minimum stake.