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Our Chelson Meadow solar farm has been unanimously given the green light!

Alex R
23rd Jun 2022
Biodiversity Net Gain

Joint press release from PEC and Plymouth City Council – 23 June 2022

Work should begin on Plymouth’s brand new, community-owned solar farm next year after planning approval was granted by the Council’s planning committee.

Having met on Thursday, the committee unanimously approved the 13MW solar farm on the old landfill site at Chelson Meadow which was submitted as a partnership between the Council and local charity Plymouth Energy Community (PEC).

Once complete and operational, the solar farm will increase the city’s renewable power generation by nearly 50 per cent, generating enough to power 3,860 homes a year whilst making significant carbon savings. It will be the largest community developed solar farm in the country!

It will also improve the wildlife and natural habitats on and around the site by 25 per cent and provide an educational experience for the public.

The initiative will take Plymouth closer to its commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2030; paying its part in tackling climate change and defining a better path for a viable future. Being community-owned means that any profits are kept locally.

As part of the process, PEC has shared information with the local community and stakeholders for feedback and this has helped shape the submitted design.

Cllr James Stoneman, Cabinet Member for Climate Change said “Achieving planning permission for this innovative project is a major mile stone in reducing carbon emissions in Plymouth.

“We are proud to work in partnership with our colleagues at PEC and to have taken an important step closer to carbon neutrality and defining a better path for a viable future.”

Alistair Macpherson, CEO of PEC said "Increasing energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis are causing more households falling into poverty. Demand for our advice and support service was up 400% even before the price hike, this situation is now chronic. Emissions are still rising, the impacts of climate change are being felt, so we need to be courageous in our response. Being able to generate clean energy locally is an opportunity that we have an obligation to our children to grab with both hands. We are delighted that this ambitious project has been approved and wish to thank everyone, especially Plymouth City Council and the South West Net Zero Hub, for their support."

Plymouth Energy Community have already installed a community-owned solar array at Ernesettle, saved over £800k for local schools and community organisations through rooftop solar and re-invested surplus profits into projects that help Plymouth residents reduce their energy bills and make homes more energy efficient.

The project is being delivered with support from the Rural Community Energy Fund, which is administered by the SW Net Zero Hub.

Louise Hosegood, Rural Community Energy Fund Project Manager for the South West Net Zero Hub - "I’m delighted we’re able to support PEC’s Chelson Meadow solar project through the Rural Community Energy Fund Programme. Today’s positive outcome reflects PEC’s unwavering commitment to bring significant energy generation, benefits to host communities, and biodiversity gains to the Plymouth area. It’s an excellent example of the importance of community energy in delivering multiple aspects of the Net Zero agenda."

Building of the new solar farm is expected to start in summer 2023. You can read about the project here: www.plymouthenergycommunity.com/our-work/chelson-meadow.