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Solar power a step closer for Calne

A community scheme to increase the supply of renewable energy to Calne in Wiltshire is a step closer thanks to a £36,000 feasibility grant.

The funding was awarded by the South West Energy Hub to Calne Town Council in partnership with Sustainable Calne and will be used to investigate the development of solar photo-voltaic (PV) arrays to provide renewable energy for the local area.

Across Wiltshire, councils have already declared a climate emergency and aim to be carbon neutral by 2030. Sustainable Calne is a community group made up of local residents and town councilors that was formed in summer 2019 in response to the council asking for community help towards Calne becoming carbon neutral. It is working with the Town Council to tackle climate change by positive action in the Calne community area.

The grant from the South West Energy Hub will help to establish the technical and commercial feasibility of the solar PV scheme, and any screening and biodiversity improvements to be considered. It will also fund work to identify potential options for a community benefits society under which this and other community energy projects could be set up and run.

Sustainable Calne and Calne Town Council are working with a local landowner and businesses to develop plans for community energy initiatives. These have the potential to improve the penetration of renewable energy within the area and creating funding for reinvestment in other community led initiatives.

If feasible, the solar PV scheme has the potential to generate 5-10 megawatts of energy for the local community.

Jeanette Young, Director of Council Services at Calne Town Council said: “The Town Council is pleased to be working in association with Sustainable Calne and the South West Energy Hub on this project for the benefit of the Calne community. Calne Town Council has pledged to become Carbon Neutral by 2030, and we have been working alongside organisations and community groups on innovative projects to help achieve this. We’re passionate about this exciting renewable energy scheme and the potential for other towns and groups to follow suit”.

Paddy Bradley, Chief Executive Officer at Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We place the climate emergency at the centre of our thinking about economic development. We are delighted with the award of funding to support Sustainable Calne and the Calne Town Council in the development of their project. Calne has set its aim of becoming carbon neutral and the money from the South West Energy Hub will be of great help on this journey”.

Jon Rattenbury, Programme Manager for the South West Energy Hub, said: “We are delighted to support Sustainable Calne through this grant and look forward to working together as the scheme progresses. It’s great to see Calne Town Council and the local community working together on this solar power scheme and I hope it will inspire other local groups to come forward with their own projects”.