Visit to the Solar Farm and Wildflower Meadows
at Southill Community Energy
Saturday 4th June 3:00pm
Come and join us on the platinum Jubilee week end and enjoy the flowers and celebrate the coming of summer at the community owned solar farm and wild-flower meadows of Southill Community Energy (SCE) nr Charlbury. We have organised a tour of the solar farm, flower meadows and will be shown their special bee hives.
Southill Community Energy is a ‘community benefit society’. It is run by a community of members, and aims to encourage, inspire and empower local people and organisations to reduce their carbon emissions.
After paying operating costs and interest to its members, surpluses generated by the solar farm are invested in the community. Forecasts show that should have on average £30,000 a year to invest locally. That’s around £750,000 over the life of the project. Through a programme of grants, they use these funds to invest to support local low-carbon initiatives in the community.
Enhancing local ecology
SCE also pays the Cotswold Conservation Board to enhance the landscape, in order to increase local biodiversity and offer a refuge to threatened species – birds, plants, insects and maybe even mammals.
Southill Solar lies on 45 acres of land owned by the Cornbury estate, between Charlbury and Fawler. There is 20 acres for solar panels, and 25 acres for planting and biodiversity projects. It lies on Grade 3b agricultural land owned by the Cornbury estate, sandwiched between the railway, the road and a substation.
Being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the heart of our plan for Southill was the need to create an environment that enhances biodiversity – doing good for local plants and wildlife.
Working with the UK’s leading ecologist specialising in solar farms, Dr. Guy Parker they have developed and continues to implement a bespoke landscape and ecological management plan for the site. This ensures that wildflowers, bees and butterflies can flourish on the land.
They have enhanced the hedgerows that border the field by planting gaps with a range of shrubs to provide food and shelter for farmland birds. To provide food and habitat for hares, reptiles and nesting bumble bees, they are developing wide field margins of tussocky grass to around the whole boundary of the site.
They have sowed a wildflower meadow – one of Britain’s rarest and most valuable habitats – in the grassland around the site. They also have an small existing wild flower meadow at the very north of the site which is estimated to be at least 20 years old, and every summer is abuzz with bumblebees and butterflies.
Beneath the solar panels they have established a traditional grazing mix of fine grasses and wild flowers.
To make sure the solar panels aren’t overgrown, they hope to use sheep to graze the wildflower meadow. The sheep would be removed through the summer months to allow wild flowers to bloom and set seed.
They have also planted an orchard - 60 fruit trees, including apple, pear and nut to provide fruit to the community as well as food for wildlife.
For more info about Southill Community Energy visit:
Charlbury OX7 3AH
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