Monday, 24 June 2024
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Monday, 24 June 2024

Solar farm powers community grants of nearly £100,000

SHROPSHIRE community projects have benefitted from nearly £100,000 of funding thanks to grants generated by a county solar farm. 

The Twemlows Solar Farm on the edge of Whitchurch – which has a 10MW capacity and can power up to 3,300 homes – has made £91,634 available for community projects since it was set up in 2015, new figures show.

Now one of the organisations which manage the grants is getting ready to take the solar farm into community ownership to help it to continue to support community and environmental projects.

Community benefit society Shropshire and Telford Community Energy (STCE) is working on a share offer for the Prees Heath solar farm which is expected to be launched later this year.

Dave Green, from STCE, said he was delighted with the success of the Twemlows community benefit funds:

“There are two Twemlows community benefit funds. One is for any community projects within 15 miles of the site which is distributed by Shropshire’s Community Resource. The other STCE manages funding energy-related schemes anywhere in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

“The benefits we have been able to bring to groups right around the county have been enormous. We’ve funded solar panels at community halls, helped a church group buy community kitchen equipment, and funded energy improvement work at Lee Brockhurst Village Hall.”

Other schemes which have benefitted include:

  • Whitchurch Blackberry Fair. The fair, which has been supported by STCE and the Twemlows fund for some years, takes over the whole community and makes the entire town a stage. STCE help included sponsorship of the Pedal Roundabout.
  • The Park Lane Centre, Woodside, Telford. The centre was helped to fit a rainwater harvesting system and energy-efficient LED lights. Manager Jacqui Idiens said: “We wanted the children to have a hands-on experience of conservation of resources, so harvesting rainwater to water their seeds and plants is a perfect lesson for them. The LED lights will be making a small but significant reduction in the centre’s running costs”.
  • Lightfoot Enterprises. Lightfoot was supported with grants to carry out home energy surveys to improve efficiency and cut bills. Sharon Pickering, of Little Wenlock, had a survey carried out by Jeremy Brignell-Thorp.

She said:

“My home in the Old School House is a real challenge for heating and energy saving. Solid walls, poor insulation, no gas or oil, just a log stove and electrics. Jeremy certainly knew his subject and helped me navigate through the various options for making my home more energy efficient.”

Grants have also been awarded to Longnor Village Hall, for loft and floor insulation, Shrewsbury United Reform Church, for a secondary glazing project and for solar panels at Festival Drayton Centre in Market Drayton and Harmer Hill Village Hall, near Wem among others.

Dave said the value of the community benefit funds could increase dramatically once the share offer is completed and STCE takes over ownership of Twemlows:

“We anticipate the Twemlows Community Benefit Fund could be worth something like £3million over the next 18 years. This will enable significant carbon emission reductions as much of it will be directed to energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

“It will also continue to have a huge social impact through helping local organisations to save money and provide better facilities.”

Details of the share offer launch are expected to be announced later this summer. More information about the offer and the community benefit grants is available by signing up for the STCE newsletter through its website at https://stcenergy.org.uk/.

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