South West law firm Stephens Scown LLP has acted for Ernesettle Community Solar Limited, part of the Plymouth Energy Community (PEC) group, advising on the funding and construction of a 4.1MW solar farm in Ernesettle, Plymouth.
PEC, an award-winning Community Benefit Society, was formed to help Plymouth residents change how they buy, use and generate energy. The dynamic community-led organisation provides a range of grassroots services addressing fuel poverty and carbon emissions. They set up PEC Renewables in 2014 to fund and build community-owned renewable installations in Plymouth. They have since completed solar arrays on 30 schools and community buildings across the city. Profit from the Ernesettle solar array, located on the river Tamar, will provide funds for PEC, and a local Community Interest Company, the Four Greens Community Trust, will also benefit from a long term ground rent. A community share offer, due to launch in May, will provide the opportunity for local ownership.
Led by partners Sonya Bedford and Simon Morris, Stephens Scown advised on a series of complex construction, development and financing agreements. By working closely with PEC, Communities for Renewables CIC and a number of third parties, Stephens Scown ensured that all necessary contracts were agreed paving the way for construction to be completed by the Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) deadline of 31 March 2016.
Sonya Bedford, renewables partner of Stephens Scown commented: “We were very pleased to be able to support PEC and work with them and Communities for Renewables in what is a very exciting opportunity for the local community.”
In spite of recent changes to national policy for renewable subsidies and tax relief, PEC will continue to explore future opportunities to bring clean energy to Plymouth.
Alistair Macpherson, CEO of PEC and PEC Renewables said: “The team at Stephens Scown has been fantastic. Having advisors who share our vision for a cleaner energy future has made a huge difference to this project, and meant a scheme that many said could not be done, is now on track from energisation at the end of the month.
“This is a great story. Ernesettle Community Solar brings derelict land into economic use, provides clean power for more than 1,000 homes and will provide funds for our fuel poverty work across the city.”
Stephens Scown’s renewable energy team has 11 specialist lawyers focussing on renewable energy work – making it the largest in the region. The team has been recognised by independent legal guide, Legal 500, which highlights the expertise of the team’s head, Sonya Bedford. The firm is passionate in its support for sustainable energy, from solar to wind farms, hydro-electric power and anaerobic digestion plants. The firm advised on the country’s very first wind farm at Delabole in Cornwall, as well as the first solar farm at Wheal Jane in Cornwall. The team now works on projects throughout the UK and Europe.
Stephens Scown has over 290 staff, including more than 50 partners, across its offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. For more information visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk