An energy firm keen to build a solar farm in the East Devon countryside is holding a public consultation in Whimple on Wednesday, October 20.
Aura Power is proposing to develop a solar farm on land north of Whimple, generating enough energy to annually power the equivalent of 12,000 homes or 18,000 electric vehicles.
Residents, Councillors and business owners are invited to have their say about Horton Solar Farm at a public exhibition being held on October 20, from 5.30pm until 8.30pm, at Whimple Victory Hall, where questions and feedback are invited ahead of Aura submitting a planning application.
The company is offering a ‘community benefit fund’ of more than £700,000, available as annual grants of £17,500 for the 40-year life-span of the solar farm.
The energy firm said wildflower meadows, tree planting and ‘hedgerow enhancement’ would be introduced at the site if the proposal was given the go-ahead.
Chris Featonby, Aura Power UK development manager, said: “The site we are proposing for Horton solar farm is well suited for this type of development with limited visual impact on nearby homes.
“We will also be providing a community benefit fund with a total value over £700,000 for the solar farm’s life and are keen to learn more about local priorities and projects that might benefit from the funding.
“By offering a choice of virtual and physical consultation events, we hope that as many local residents as possible will be able to see our plans and provide their feedback.”
The company said the solar farm would save an estimated 11,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The proposed development by Aura Power, a firm based in Bristol, is for a subsidy-free solar farm of up to 49.9 MW capacity that would generate enough renewable electricity to supply the equivalent of over 12,000 typical homes or to power 18,000 electric vehicles annually.
A spokeswoman for Aura Power said: “The site is well screened with existing hedgerows.
“A range of ecological measures are also proposed, including species-rich wildflower meadows around the panels, and additional native tree planting and hedgerow enhancement both for improved screening and to boost biodiversity.”
She added: “Aura is also planning to set up a Community Benefit Fund of £17,500 a year, index-linked (based on £350 per MW capacity), for the 40-year life of the solar farm.
“A proportion of this would be set aside for yearly educational sessions with local schools and site visits to the solar farm.”
Around 1,000 invitations have been sent out by post to local people living near the proposed site, the developer said.