Plymouth approves community-owned solar array

Plymouth City Council has granted planning permission for a community-owned solar array, which could generate enough power for 1,000 homes.

The plans have been developed by Four Greens Community Trust (FGCT) and the council-backed PEC Renewables.

The 4.1MW solar array will also provide a much-needed community benefit fund for the two organisations.

“We have been happy to support the set up and ongoing development of PEC and FGCT, as well as the provision of this land and applaud innovative ways to help the most vulnerable in our society,” said Plymouth City Council leader, Cllr Tudor Evans. 

“It’s a shame that the Government’s recent proposals fundamentally undermine this good work and put thousands of jobs at risk across the South West. We call on Government to revise its support for community-owned small-scale renewables,” added Cllr Evans.

“We are delighted that the hard work that went into the planning application has paid off and hope that it will move to the next phase,” said FGCT Board member, Sally Walker.

“This solar array will really kick-start our work in the community by generating a valuable income. We want to make sure that residents nearby are as involved as widely as possible; from anyone being able to buy shares and earn a return on their investment to local school children being involved with wildflower meadows and bug boxes around the panels!”

Dave Garland, PEC Renewables Chair, added: “We are passionate about providing locally owned and generated renewable energy. This will be our biggest project yet and will see us smash our target of delivering 5MW in 5 years. Today’s planning approval is a big step towards making that a reality. The potential community benefit of this project is substantial and our previous share offers show that public appetite for positive investment is thriving. However, recent proposals to slash subsidies for solar power will have a significant impact on our enterprise.” 

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues