A community-owned solar farm is powering ahead after securing a £500,000 loan from West Oxfordshire District Council.
Southill Solar, in the grounds of the Cornbury Estate near Charlbury, will use the cash to pay off more costly short-term loans used to fund its start-up costs.
With its 17,300 solar panels, the development, operated by Southill Community Energy, started operating last November and generates 4.5MW of energy. This is enough to power 1100 homes – equivalent to all of the properties in its nearest parishes, Charlbury, Finstock and Fawler.
As well as generating green electricity, the solar farm will also be planted with native plant species including wildflowers to attract wildlife, while a solar-powered beehive has already been introduced.
Tim Crisp, director at Southill Solar, said: “This financial support by WODC is a great example of a local authority partnering with community initiatives. It will help us deliver surplus funds to other low-carbon community projects faster than otherwise would have happened.”
Cllr Toby Morris, Cabinet Member for Resources at West Oxfordshire District Council, added: “This is an excellent investment – Southill Solar is ethical and owned by local shareholders as well as providing sustainable power for the next 25 years.”
Cllr Carol Reynolds, Cabinet Member for the Environment at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Southill Solar is a fantastic scheme with real benefits for the local community and the environment. We are delighted to be able to support it.”