Solar Power benefiting Oxfordshire Communities

Posted by Keith Lancaster on

Blake Morgan's Planning Team has utilised its wealth of experience in renewable development to help Sustainable Charlbury obtain planning permission for revised proposals for the Southill Solar community-owned solar farm in Oxfordshire. Gaining planning permission was the final critical factor in allowing Sustainable Charlbury to submit the proposals for "pre-accreditation" under the Government's current grant programme.

Timing was critical given fluctuating Government policy that threatened to end such schemes from benefiting under the Feed-in-Tariff regime which would secure set income for the project over the power generating life of the development.

Liz Reason, Sustainable Charlbury's director commented "Blake Morgan's efforts on our behalf were much appreciated and we wouldn’t have got our S106 without your commitment to our required timescales and working with our interests – and those of our community - very much at heart".

West Oxfordshire District Council granted permission for the scheme which will have a generating capacity of 4.3 MW from solar panels covering 8ha of an 18ha site. The revised proposals addressed previous visual impact concerns.

However, in addition to the provision of power for the community the scheme will also secure financial benefits aimed, over the 25 year lifetime of the solar farm, at key local community buildings such as renovating the 18th century "Corner House" and installing energy reduction measures at the new Charlbury Community Centre.

Additionally, there will be financial benefits for a local conservation organisation to help in achieving their wildlife and landscape management plan objectives in the area.

The benefits continue on-site. Southill Solar aims to be an exemplar for wildlife management. The scheme proposes a range of habitat enhancements that will benefit native wildlife including the creation of 5 hectares of new limestone grassland (a nationally rare habitat) as well as the enhancement of existing hedges and field margins. Such enhancements are in excess of solar industry good practice guidance.

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Keith specialises in planning law, advising in major projects and infrastructure, energy and renewables in the commercial, industrial and residential sectors.

Keith Lancaster
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