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Solar panel farm nearing generation WORK has been taking place to get a massive solar farm in Coalpit Heath up and running in time to meet a target date that will earn the most for a community support fund. But a second scheme on land off Trench Lane hasn’t progressed enough to be able to get anything connected before the deadline of April 1, which will result in over £2,000 less going into the community fund for Frampton each year. The first project is at Says Court Farm, Coalpit Heath, where long lines of solar panels will produce low carbon energy for thousands of homes. More than 100 workers have been employed on the site recently to get the panels in place and linked to the National Grid. A trust fund set up as part of an agreement with Westerleigh Parish Council will receive payments for every megawatt produced by the solar farm. But a higher contribution rate of £1000 per megawatt will only apply for power that started to be generated by the start of April.
Electricity produced after that date will attract a lower rate of £875. The deadline in order to achieve the highest tariff has just been met at Says Court Farm. Even if only part of the site is ready in time, it is understood that proportion of the operation will attract the full benefit. The community fund will be in use for the 25-year life of the panels, with contributions paid to the parish council. The
council will then decide how best to spend the money to benefit residents, make ecological improvements or support energy efficiency measures. The fund will also support Avon Wildlife Trust to create two wildlife habitats next to the solar farm, one of which will be accessible by public footpath. Solar panel installer SunEdison will operate the 100acre site – part of the 330-acre Says Court Farm that is the
home of the Bennett family. Andrew Bennett, who is in business with his two sons, said; “There have been more than 100 workers here going flat out to get it finished.” Meanwhile, plans to put thousands of solar panels on land at Grange Farm, near the West Country Water Park, are not so advanced and have missed the deadline. Although planning permission has been given, work related to conditions linked to the consent is still being carried out. Solar Power South is developing the site, where up to 95,000 panels could be installed. Agent Peter Grubb said: “The panels will produce enough energy for 3,750 homes, saving 7,660 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.” It was hoped to have the site generating by early summer, probably in June. Although a lower rate would go into the fund for Frampton Cotterell parish, it should still earn over £15,000 per year for the community.
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Published on Apr 3, 2014