Energy & Recycling

Locals gather to launch first of three Dorset solar farms representing £1m local investment

By Daniel Face [email protected]

Published: June 20, 2023 | Updated: 19th June 2023

Voltalia recently invited Dorset locals to come and celebrate the opening of its largest UK solar energy facility to date – and there’s more where that came from.

With the South Farm Solar Park near Spetisbury now open, the international renewables firm has plans for another two sites at Higher Stockbridge and Clifton Farm, Sherbourne.

It was all made possible through a first-of-its-kind Power Purchase Agreement with the City of London Corporation.

They joined Cllr Val Pothecary and members of the Dorset Council Northern Planning Committee last Friday to tour the finished 130-acre facility, alongside local artist Jack Dickson who marked the event with a specially commissioned piece.

Keith Bottomley, deputy policy chairman and policy lead for sustainability at the City of London Corporation, said: “This scheme is a pioneering blueprint for local authorities across the UK, cutting carbon emissions and giving cheaper, more secure energy, protected from the price volatility of energy markets.

“The deal will increase our green energy supply, has no reliance on taxpayer funding, and helps us transition quickly away from fossil fuels.”

But the benefits are much further reaching for Dorset, as Voltalia has also invested more than £1,000,000 in local supplier partnerships within 25 miles of the new development.

The company has worked particularly closely with Spetisbury Primary School, restoring the car park using recycled construction materials and hosting an educational Energy Day to help pupils get hands-on with renewable energy.

Simon Holt, UK country manager at Voltalia, said: “We are committed to collaborating with local suppliers across all elements of our projects wherever possible – from creating our signage and undertaking construction tasks on-site to managing our waste disposal.

“Our aim is to make our projects as mutually beneficial as possible. By opening South Farm Solar Park, we have become part of the Spetisbury community and therefore have a responsibility to help the area flourish.

“As part of this commitment, we’ve worked closely with the solar park’s landowner from the outset.

“He’s part of four generations of family holding ownership of the site – so working collaboratively with him has been critical in maximising the park’s viability.

“Now the park is fully operational, we’ll continue engaging with our community.

“We have a full lifetime approach to our sites, developing, constructing, operating, and maintaining each one, so we are continually involved.

“We’re excited to working together with the Dorset community at this site and our other two sites near Sherborne to create a more sustainable future for the UK.”

Voltalia’s UK facilities offer a combined capacity of 193MW – 49.9MW of which is now provided by South Farm Solar Park.

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