Community solar farms offer almost £50,000 to COVID-19 relief


Yealm Community Energy (YCE) is making available £48,000 from the Community Benefit Funds of the solar farms it manages, Newton Downs and Creacombe, near Yealmpton, to support local initiatives to help tackle the coronavirus emergency.

£10,000 is being made available immediately, with £2,000 allocated to each of the five parishes of Brixton, Holbeton, Newton & Noss, Wembury, and Yealmpton supported by YCE. Applications for these funds are invited now via the YCE.

So far funds have been allocated to Holbeton Covid-19 Emergency Food Welfare Group, and
Newton and Noss Coronavirus Emergency Fund.

As efforts to overcome the virus continue, a further £20,000 will be made available for additional support measures as needed. YCE and the community fund will consult with Parish Councils and other agencies and individuals to decide as to when and if these funds are released, and the mechanism for disbursement.

A third tranche of £18,000 can also be made available if needed. If these funds are not required for coronavirus mitigation they will be used to support other local community projects with an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability.

Andrew Moore, Director, Yealm Community Energy, said: “This pandemic is the biggest national emergency most of us are likely to see in our lifetimes, and it has been inspiring to see the local community come together to support one another. We know that even a small amount of money can make a big difference in the hands of local people, and we hope that these community funds generated by our solar projects will not only be used where they are most needed to provide immediate assistance, but also help with the longer-term recovery in the Yealm community area.”

The agreement to release the community benefit funds early followed consultation between Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) which has invested in and supports the solar farms, its advisers, Environmental Finance, and YCE. CORE plans to transfer the two solar farms into full community ownership later this year.

André Sarvarian, Associate Director at Environmental Finance said: “In this uncertain period, the value of a community owned infrastructure asset that can generate a stable cash flow for the community is reinforced - the original hypothesis of CORE was to embed these valuable assets into community hands to make those communities more resilient and able to react to local social need - this early and substantial release of funds goes a long way to proving that hypothesis.”

YCE expects to launch the first community solar investment offers this summer, allowing local people to have a stake in their local green energy generating assets, and resulting in additional community benefit funds over the lifetime of the two solar farms of £3 million.