Community solar farm starts producing power for 600 Hampshire homes

The solar farm off Lower Pennington Lane, Lymington

The solar farm off Lower Pennington Lane, Lymington

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter, New Forest

A COMMUNITY energy project has started producing power for 600 Hampshire homes after transforming a former gravel pit into a solar farm.

Said to be the first scheme of its type in Hampshire, the West Solent Solar Co-operative (WSSC) facility has been funded by 500 investors who raised £2.6 million in just eight weeks.

So many people wanted to support the eco-friendly facility that the appeal was over-subscribed by £250,000.

As reported by the Daily Echo, 9,372 solar panels have been installed on a 12-acre site off Lower Pennington Lane, Lymington.

The farm has been connected to the National Grid and is already generating enough electricity to power hundreds of homes in the Lymington area.

WSSC chairman Anthony Woolhouse said: “We’re delighted that we were able to raise the funds in such a short space of time.

“This is an excellent example of a community-owned and managed, renewable energy project which we hope can be repeated elsewhere.

“As well as bringing green energy to Hampshire, it offers local people and others the opportunity to benefit from better returns than currently offered by banks and building societies while fighting climate change.”

Each member of the co-op contributed an average of £5,000 – and can expect to receive an 8.5 per cent return on their investment.

Volunteers have also planted 1,000 trees to landscape the area.

WSSC director Cathy Cook said: “After construction the whole field will be seeded with wild flowers. Beehives will then be established and sheep brought into graze the land.”

Solar farms have proved controversial because of concerns about their impact on the countryside and the public subsidies they receive.

Comments (10)

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7:59am Sun 27 Jul 14

Columbo's Glass Eye says...

I registered interest in this when it first surfaced as I'm a local resident. After reading through the info pack I decided against it. Then a few weeks ago I received an email saying they'd achieved X amount from funders but we're still looking for Y amount etc etc. I can't remember the X and Y amounts and I've deleted the email. But the article baffles me slightly when it says it was oversubscribed. Loose use of the truth maybe to try and make this seam a bigger success than it is?
I registered interest in this when it first surfaced as I'm a local resident. After reading through the info pack I decided against it. Then a few weeks ago I received an email saying they'd achieved X amount from funders but we're still looking for Y amount etc etc. I can't remember the X and Y amounts and I've deleted the email. But the article baffles me slightly when it says it was oversubscribed. Loose use of the truth maybe to try and make this seam a bigger success than it is? Columbo's Glass Eye
  • Score: -3

9:15am Sun 27 Jul 14

Torchie1 says...

Columbo's Glass Eye wrote:
I registered interest in this when it first surfaced as I'm a local resident. After reading through the info pack I decided against it. Then a few weeks ago I received an email saying they'd achieved X amount from funders but we're still looking for Y amount etc etc. I can't remember the X and Y amounts and I've deleted the email. But the article baffles me slightly when it says it was oversubscribed. Loose use of the truth maybe to try and make this seam a bigger success than it is?
I'm afraid you are mistaken in your beliefs and a look at the West Solent Solar Co-operative website will confirm it. I think you've missed a good opportunity as there aren't many 8.5% Returns around, and if you add on the EIS relief at 30% of your Share costs plus the 'carry back' it was a good offer.
[quote][p][bold]Columbo's Glass Eye[/bold] wrote: I registered interest in this when it first surfaced as I'm a local resident. After reading through the info pack I decided against it. Then a few weeks ago I received an email saying they'd achieved X amount from funders but we're still looking for Y amount etc etc. I can't remember the X and Y amounts and I've deleted the email. But the article baffles me slightly when it says it was oversubscribed. Loose use of the truth maybe to try and make this seam a bigger success than it is?[/p][/quote]I'm afraid you are mistaken in your beliefs and a look at the West Solent Solar Co-operative website will confirm it. I think you've missed a good opportunity as there aren't many 8.5% Returns around, and if you add on the EIS relief at 30% of your Share costs plus the 'carry back' it was a good offer. Torchie1
  • Score: 5

10:21am Sun 27 Jul 14

forest hump says...

If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.
If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs. forest hump
  • Score: -1

10:33am Sun 27 Jul 14

Torchie1 says...

forest hump wrote:
If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.
One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.
[quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.[/p][/quote]One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows. Torchie1
  • Score: 8

11:58am Sun 27 Jul 14

Columbo's Glass Eye says...

Torchie1 wrote:
Columbo's Glass Eye wrote:
I registered interest in this when it first surfaced as I'm a local resident. After reading through the info pack I decided against it. Then a few weeks ago I received an email saying they'd achieved X amount from funders but we're still looking for Y amount etc etc. I can't remember the X and Y amounts and I've deleted the email. But the article baffles me slightly when it says it was oversubscribed. Loose use of the truth maybe to try and make this seam a bigger success than it is?
I'm afraid you are mistaken in your beliefs and a look at the West Solent Solar Co-operative website will confirm it. I think you've missed a good opportunity as there aren't many 8.5% Returns around, and if you add on the EIS relief at 30% of your Share costs plus the 'carry back' it was a good offer.
That's the beauty of hindsight I'm afraid. There are no guarantees with projects like this but I'm pleased for them and applaud through envious hands! As mentioned I'm sure more will pop up with further opportunities.
[quote][p][bold]Torchie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Columbo's Glass Eye[/bold] wrote: I registered interest in this when it first surfaced as I'm a local resident. After reading through the info pack I decided against it. Then a few weeks ago I received an email saying they'd achieved X amount from funders but we're still looking for Y amount etc etc. I can't remember the X and Y amounts and I've deleted the email. But the article baffles me slightly when it says it was oversubscribed. Loose use of the truth maybe to try and make this seam a bigger success than it is?[/p][/quote]I'm afraid you are mistaken in your beliefs and a look at the West Solent Solar Co-operative website will confirm it. I think you've missed a good opportunity as there aren't many 8.5% Returns around, and if you add on the EIS relief at 30% of your Share costs plus the 'carry back' it was a good offer.[/p][/quote]That's the beauty of hindsight I'm afraid. There are no guarantees with projects like this but I'm pleased for them and applaud through envious hands! As mentioned I'm sure more will pop up with further opportunities. Columbo's Glass Eye
  • Score: 1

12:00pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Columbo's Glass Eye says...

Torchie1 wrote:
forest hump wrote:
If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.
One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.
Agreed as long as you get there before half 4 when they close! Far too early given it's popularity.
[quote][p][bold]Torchie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.[/p][/quote]One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.[/p][/quote]Agreed as long as you get there before half 4 when they close! Far too early given it's popularity. Columbo's Glass Eye
  • Score: 1

3:43pm Sun 27 Jul 14

forest hump says...

Torchie1 wrote:
forest hump wrote:
If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.
One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.
OK, point taken BUT. why oh why do we not build more housing? These schemes are short-sighted. What this country needs is solid, reliable power generation projects. Nuclear or gas-turbine. Unless this is done, the future is dim....literally. Also housing is required. This country has developed around 5% of its total area. All this "lack of space" nonsense does not stack up. Unfortunately, politics interfere with good common sense.
[quote][p][bold]Torchie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.[/p][/quote]One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.[/p][/quote]OK, point taken BUT. why oh why do we not build more housing? These schemes are short-sighted. What this country needs is solid, reliable power generation projects. Nuclear or gas-turbine. Unless this is done, the future is dim....literally. Also housing is required. This country has developed around 5% of its total area. All this "lack of space" nonsense does not stack up. Unfortunately, politics interfere with good common sense. forest hump
  • Score: -2

6:55pm Sun 27 Jul 14

biggus2 says...

All those panels and only power to 600 homes, How many panels would it take to power Southampton or Portsmouth or even towns like Fareham or an area like West End. I would suggest a lot more than there is space available. All green space taken up by Solar Panels.
All those panels and only power to 600 homes, How many panels would it take to power Southampton or Portsmouth or even towns like Fareham or an area like West End. I would suggest a lot more than there is space available. All green space taken up by Solar Panels. biggus2
  • Score: -1

7:00pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Torchie1 says...

forest hump wrote:
Torchie1 wrote:
forest hump wrote:
If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.
One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.
OK, point taken BUT. why oh why do we not build more housing? These schemes are short-sighted. What this country needs is solid, reliable power generation projects. Nuclear or gas-turbine. Unless this is done, the future is dim....literally. Also housing is required. This country has developed around 5% of its total area. All this "lack of space" nonsense does not stack up. Unfortunately, politics interfere with good common sense.
"What this country needs is solid, reliable power generation projects. Nuclear or gas-turbine. " I couldn't agree more but legislation should insure that the new-builds are efficient within reason and the most cost effective way is straight from the plans.
[quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Torchie1[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]forest hump[/bold] wrote: If the "expected" outcome is 8.5%, projects like these should be springing up like daisies. Why are houses not being built on this land? If the solar generation is that good, why not incorporate it in a housing project? We are continually being told we are running out of "green space" (which is utter nonsense) and house prices are abnormally high due to demand. Better still, simplify the planning process and take it out of the hands of the local guessers. Oh! and would like to see how much of the 8.5% is eaten up by eventual maintenance and replacement costs.[/p][/quote]One of the features of a housing development on this land would be the convenience of living next door to Efford Tip, a positive bonus if you want to dispose of an old sofa or a fridge. Incorporating green energy in to a housing development should be mandatory, with roof panels and maximum insulation being as important as doors and windows.[/p][/quote]OK, point taken BUT. why oh why do we not build more housing? These schemes are short-sighted. What this country needs is solid, reliable power generation projects. Nuclear or gas-turbine. Unless this is done, the future is dim....literally. Also housing is required. This country has developed around 5% of its total area. All this "lack of space" nonsense does not stack up. Unfortunately, politics interfere with good common sense.[/p][/quote]"What this country needs is solid, reliable power generation projects. Nuclear or gas-turbine. " I couldn't agree more but legislation should insure that the new-builds are efficient within reason and the most cost effective way is straight from the plans. Torchie1
  • Score: 0

11:47pm Sun 27 Jul 14

Poppy22 says...

New builds could definitely have more solar panels. On a small development here, they only had to put about 4 panels on each roof (and the builders even put the panels on the north side instead of the south until we pointed out the error!). Why not on the whole roof, using the solar tiles that are now available?
On Facebook recently, a photo was circulating of a supermarket car park in the States, I think, where above all the car parking spaces there was a roof with solar panels completely covering it. What a great way to have solar power and dual use of the space and why haven't we got that in places like Hedge End superstore car parks, instead of using countryside for the solar "farms"? But at least at Lymington they've planted trees, wildflowers and are bringing in sheep.
New builds could definitely have more solar panels. On a small development here, they only had to put about 4 panels on each roof (and the builders even put the panels on the north side instead of the south until we pointed out the error!). Why not on the whole roof, using the solar tiles that are now available? On Facebook recently, a photo was circulating of a supermarket car park in the States, I think, where above all the car parking spaces there was a roof with solar panels completely covering it. What a great way to have solar power and dual use of the space and why haven't we got that in places like Hedge End superstore car parks, instead of using countryside for the solar "farms"? But at least at Lymington they've planted trees, wildflowers and are bringing in sheep. Poppy22
  • Score: 1

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