Innovative solar farm to be managed by villagers

PUBLISHED: 08:35 09 May 2014 | UPDATED: 08:35 09 May 2014

Solar farm in Reach

Solar farm in Reach

Archant

A not-for-profit co-operative run by villagers in Reach has applied for permission to build an enormous new solar farm.

Reach Community Solar Farm has approached East Cambridgeshire District Council with plans to erect more than 2,100 panels on agricultural land, off Blackberry Droveway.

The land is currently used for grazing and the company, which has been backed financially by villagers, says it intends to allow grazing to continue if planning permission is granted.

The company told planners: “Our intention is to mount the frames so that sheep can graze around the panels.

“As the land is currently used for grazing in any case, this means that the solar farm will have little impact on the productivity of the land. Allowing grazing around the panels will also reduce the need for maintenance visits to control vegetation around the panels.”

The company predicts that the amount of electricity generated by the panels annually will be equivalent to the amount of energy used by the entire village of Reach.

It said that community involvement has been a priority throughout the planning process and added that 40 villagers attended a public exhibition to view the plans.

The company said: “The company has a co-operative structure, so that local investors will have a say in how the company is run. We expect that the management board will primarily be people from the village.

“While investors will get a fair return on their investment every year through an interest payment, additional profit that is made will be donated to a community fund.”

A decision on the plans is expected within the next eight weeks. To view the plans, or to have a say, visit www.eastcambs.gov.uk

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