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Ferry Farm Community Solar, a community benefit society, is celebrating as the 5MWp community solar farm near Selsey, West Sussex has been connected to the grid and the panels are now generating electricity from the sun. The solar farm will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,300 local homes. The project was pre-accredited in June 2015 for the government feed-in tariff for 20 years.
The project is being funded by £4.3million of capital raised by investment specialists Triple Point from over 100 private investors, and a community share offer, which has recently launched, to raise a target £630,000. The community shares offer an intended return of 6% per year plus return of capital over 20 years and are eligible for inheritance tax relief. To find out more see www.ferryfarmsolar.co.uk.
Each year a portion of income generated by the solar farm will be used to support community organisations and projects in the local area. Ferry Farm Community Solar is looking forward to collaborating with other community energy enterprises in the south of England on a range of renewable energy, fuel poverty and energy efficiency initiatives.
The project was initially developed by solar specialists BNRG Renewables and the Langmead Group, a local food and farming business. Community energy advisors, Communities for Renewables CIC, has helped set up the Ferry Farm community society which manages the financing process and will provide ongoing administrative support.
Solarcentury took steps from the outset to ensure local wildlife was protected throughout the project – this included over 1km of reptile fence and an extensive landscaping and ecological mitigation plan. A landscaping plan is also being instigated to ensure that any potential visual impact is minimized. Ecology in the area will be enriched and rejuvenated further with wildflower seed mix and hedge / shrub planting. Solarcentury will also be installing over 350m of public bridleway which runs through the centre of the site.
Ben Cooper, Director of Ferry Farm Community Solar said: “This is a significant step towards the Selsey and Sidlesham area taking control of its energy future and retaining within the local economy some of the £20 million per year we spend on energy. Ferry Farm Community Solar will help to support over 150 active community organisations in the area, providing solar energy and income for local projects for the next 25+ years.”
Tim Rose, Sales Director Europe at Solarcentury commented, “Solarcentury is pleased to have connected this solar farm for the community energy society. As always, we aim to build solar projects with high ecological ambitions, which means respecting and safeguarding the environmental interests of the Selsey area.”
David Maguire, director of BNRG Renewables said: “BNRG, in partnership with the site’s landowner, Langmead Farms, are particularly proud of successfully bringing Ferry Farm from initial opportunity all the way through to energization. This project was achieved through great collaboration between Community for Renewables, Triplepoint and Solarcentury and is a testament to the ability of community ownership to deliver great projects, clean energy and real community benefit in the form of up to £1m of community contributions over the life of the solar farm.
Ben Beaton, Managing Partner of Triple Point said: “Triple Point is delighted to have helped fund the community solar project at Ferry Farm. We are particularly pleased that investors have backed a successfully commissioned solar project, which will also achieve real and lasting benefits for the local community. Supporting the Ferry Farm Community Solar Project adds to our portfolio of solar pv investments as well as to the partnerships we have developed over the last five years with charities and social enterprises. We look forward to working with Ferry Farm Community Solar to help it achieve and expand its community objectives.”
Jake Burnyeat of Communities for Renewables CIC said: “The Ferry Farm project is a great collaboration between commercial partners and the local community. The outcome is a professionally managed solar project that achieves genuine local ownership and benefit through the community share offer, local governance and community income generated.”