Primrose Solar buys West Sussex solar farm

Plans for one of the UK’s first shared ownership framework solar farms have taken a step forward with the news that Primose Solar has bought half of Merston Solar Farm.

The energy company has concluded a deal with Solstice Renewables to acquire half the farm, which is near Chichester.

Solstice and Mongoose Energy working together on a deal for Mongoose to acquire the other half. 

Once complete, it will become one of the first “5 and 5” schemes in the UK in line with the government’s ‘shared-ownership’ framework for renewable energy projects.

The two projects of 10 hectares each were developed by Solstice Renewables and planning consent was granted by Chichester District Council in March 2015. 

Primrose Solar will start construction immediately and will operate the 5MW site as a commercial project as part of its portfolio of UK solar farms.

Giles Clark, CEO, Primrose Solar, said: “Primrose is very pleased to have acquired another good solar farm site from Solstice Renewables as we share the same approach to promoting biodiversity and good stewardship of the land.

“Merston is likely to be one of the UK’s first solar farms to be built under the government’s new shared-ownership framework. However, it's a shame that reductions in the feed-in tariff and changes in government policy mean that very few shared-ownership solar farms will get built. We see this sort of commercial-community partnership as a key way for the industry to grow in a sustainable way.”

The solar farm is well screened from residents and public viewpoints. Primrose will also be continuing Solstice’s programme of educational benefits for local schools.

Giovanni Maruca, Director, Solstice Renewables said: “We are very pleased that Merston Solar Farm will be built and operated by Primrose, a company which shares our own commitment to industry-leading biodiversity, social and educational benefits. We are also looking forward to completing a deal with Mongoose Energy which will allow the local community to own the other 5MW project.”

Solarcentury has been appointed to build the solar farm, which sits between Chichester and Bognor Regis, and construction will begin shortly.

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