Proposals for a solar farm in Berwick, which is hoped to be partly community owned, will be discussed next week.
Plans have been published for a portion of the development to be made available to a community-owned company called Wick Street Community Solar Farm Company, in the first proposal of its kind in the UK. The company is being set up and run by local people, led by Dr Alister Scott. Also involved is the Sussex based community energy company Ovesco. Developer Susenco has applied for planning permission for the solar farm scheme on behalf of Berwick Solar Park Limited.
This is the first solar scheme in the UK arranged by a developer proposing to offer shares to local people as part of the scheme. The community company, with Ovesco’s help, will seek to raise around £3 million.
Dr Scott said, “Finally, after nearly 300 solar farms have received planning consent, the industry is waking up to the fact that local communities want ‘in’ to the significant benefits that solar farms can bring. Susenco has broken the mould in agreeing to my community being the first to have the opportunity to own a portion of its site. Also, this is the first solar farm that Wealden District Council’s planning committee will consider.
“Let Wealden say to developers ‘if you want to build here, you must share the benefits locally’.”
Liz Mandeville, an Ovesco director who has followed the project closely, added, “This project will be at the forefront of the community energy movement, which is growing strongly across the UK. To my knowledge, no other solar farm in the country is being developed on a joint basis between the local community and a commercial developer.”
The plans are due to be discussed by Wealden District Council next Thursday (October 17).