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Dorset Community Energy’s solar array gets planning permission

Earlier this year the Dottery solar array funded by the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) was granted planning permission by Dorset Council’s planning committee. The 250kW project, proposed in the parish of Allington, near Bridport, will generate electricity for local residents by using an Energy Local model.

Energy Local Clubs offer an opportunity for communities to get more value from small-scale renewables by using electricity locally. In other words, they create local power markets where householders’ consumption is matched against local electricity generation and traded directly via an agreed “match” tariff. This means consumers benefit from cheaper electricity direct from local renewable energy installations, whilst generators can secure a fairer price for the power they produce.

In 2021, Dorset Community Energy (DCE) secured a £23,000 RCEF Stage 1 grant from the Net Zero Hub to support work needed to determine the feasibility of the project. This was then followed by a £70,000 Stage 2 grant to fund further development work for the Dottery solar array, including planning, business case development, legal support to secure the land, and development of a share offer.

The site will generate sufficient renewable electricity to power up to 200 households, saving around 62 tonnes of CO2e every year. It will also be an opportunity for local residents to invest in a clean energy project.

Jon Rattenbury, South West Net Zero Hub Programme Manager, said: “We are delighted to be able to support community energy projects that use innovative business models to maximise the benefits for local communities as well as generators. The Dottery solar array is an excellent example of the potential the community energy sector has, and of the calibre of organisations that are active in the sector in our region. We are pleased that the project was successful in securing planning permission and that, through the RCEF programme, the Hub was able to support them achieve this.”

Geoff Joy, DCE Technical Director, said: “The Dottery project has encountered numerous challenges and obstacles along the way and has only been possible due to the RCEF funding. The solar PV installation will be the society’s first ground mounted array which, with the delivery of an Energy Local Club, could hopefully become an example for replication across other communities. The society are shortly to embark upon a share offer affording the local community an opportunity to fully participate in the delivery of this innovative project. DCE wish to thank everyone behind the RCEF programme without whose support and guidance this project would not have progressed.’