Our partners at the Big Solar Co-op have launched their initial share offer, with two out of their three initial sites being in Shropshire.. for details see https://bigsolar.coop/2022/07/12/shareoffer-now-live/
STCE are pleased to welcome Kevin Oubridge as the new Shropshire & Telford Big Solar Co-ordinator. We look forward to working with Kevin on delivering rooftop solar sites across the area.
We can confirm that STCE is now fully constituted (FCA Registration 8829) and we have our own bank account with Unity Trust Bank.
Negotiations with CoRE re taking on Twemlows have dragged on over the last year but finally seem to have some momentum. We have agreed to appoint Dave Green as our representative to the central board that will manage the final negotiations and the portfolio of sites ongoing. As Dave was our Secretary previously that means we are looking for a new secretary. If you’d like to help us deliver community owned renewables in Shropshire & Telford please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In the last few months we have also lost Nick Saxby who’s moved to Scotland & Naomi Wrighton, thanks to both of those for their input over the last two years. That means we also need help with the website, social media & our newsletter, again please get in touch if you’re interested.
Meanwhile MEA have delivered a webinar on their work on Renewable Energy in the Marches, the results of that work can be found here, https://mea.org.uk/our-work/meeting-the-marches-vision/
And Sharenergy have carried on working on the Bishop’s Castle Heat & Wind project on our behalf, for updates see, https://lightfootenterprises.org/climate-action/.
Lastly we have donated £5k each from the Twemlows Community benefit fund to the Lightfoot Home Energy Surveys and Park Lane Community Centre.
STCE Update Oct 2021 Community Benefit Fund.
Deadline extended to Wed 17th am..
STCE have been asked to distribute £20k of Community Benefit Fund money from the Twemlows Solar Farm.
£10k of this is available to community projects within 15 miles of the site at Prees Heath. This money will be distributed by the Shropshire Rural Communities Charity, see https://www.shropshire-rcc.org.uk/.
The other £10k is available for environmental projects around Shropshire and Telford. There is a maximum of £5k per project, organisations need to be fully constituted with a bank account and any expenditure already committed is not eligible. For the full criteria and application form please email email@example.com. The deadline for applications is Nov 17th am and decisions should be announced by Nov 29th.
Marches Energy Agency have completed their very useful work on the scale of renewables required in the Marches to meet the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) targets. We’ll post a copy on this website soon.
The Bishop’s Castle Heat & Wind project run by Sharenergy has moved forward very quickly. A wind constraints study has been completed and a survey and public meeting have been held. The meeting was very well attended and 122 survey responses have been received. There is very strong support both the heat network (82%) and the wind turbine (79%). A request has been sent to the Town Council for both the heat network and the wind turbine to be included in the town’s Neighbourhood Plan. See www.lightfootenterprises.org.
Both of these pieces of work have been funded through the grant STCE have received from Next Generation. see https://www.next-generation.org.uk/
Meanwhile discussions re the purchase of Twemlows Solar Farm continue slowly. We expect to know more early in 2022 with a share offer possibly after Easter 2022.
STCE are still hoping to purchase Twemlows solar farm but the process of arranging the transfer of the portfolio of sites currently owned by CoRE into community ownership is taking much longer than anyone expected. We hope to have news on progress in early September.
Meanwhile Power to Change have approved a Next Generation grant for STCE. This includes money for setting up a Community Benefit Society, running a share offer and investigating ways of improving the biodiversity of the Twemlows site.
Money is also available for feasibility studies for other community renewable schemes in Shropshire and Telford and Sharenergy have been contracted to carry out this work. The most promising project at the moment is for a heat network and wind turbine combination in Bishop’s Castle, but we are also looking at other schemes.
Marches Energy Agency (MEA) have also been funded to look into the scale of renewables needed in Shropshire and Telford to meet net Zero targets, a report on this will be issued shortly. MEA are also carrying out some work on energy efficiency and community networks.
STCE have also been asked to arrange for the distribution of £20k of Community Benefit funds from Twemlows. £10k of this is set aside for community projects local to Whitchurch, this money will be managed by the Rural Communities Charity. The other £10k is available for environmental projects across the whole of Shropshire and Telford, please get in touch if you would like to apply for some of this money.
The Shropshire and Telford Community Energy working group have been busy over the last couple of months, finding out what’s required in running a community energy society.
We’re looking at what other groups have been doing, discussing model rules, studying the roles of directors, thinking of PR campaigns etc.
We aim to have the community benefit society set up in July and be in a position to launch our share offer in October.
We are awaiting a revised version of the financial model for buying Twemlows but it now looks as though there will be a bond offer shared amongst all the six organisations in the CoRE portfolio with us having to raise around £700,000 through a community share issue.*
We have four volunteers willing to stand for the main posts of the society: Robert Saunders as Chair, Tim Baldwin as Vice-Chair, Fran Hunt as Treasurer and Dave Green as Secretary. These four are assisted by Howard Betts, Naomi Wrighton, Nick Saxby and Rebecca Tee.
Nick has offered to set up facebook and twitter accounts, Dave is looking after the website.
As part of the CoRE Next Generation programme we’re also being offered a grant for feasibility studies for further community energy schemes in the Shropshire and Telford area.
If you have any ideas that you would like to have added to our long list please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll have a good look at all ideas but obviously we can’t promise they’ll all be taken up.
A word from our Chair-elect, Robert Saunders: “I am very happy to be in this role whilst looking to colleagues for much support in this challenging task. Much work will have to be done in a short period of time. We are learning quickly with much professional help from our partners. I look forward to being able to launch our share offer to Shropshire and Telford folk and wider afield.”
Nick Saxby comments that “Being a part of this project has been challenging and rewarding. My background is conservation and education, so I’m really interested in promoting sustainability generally, but I didn’t have experience in the renewable energy sector. There has been a lot to learn about the technicalities of managing a project like this, but thankfully, STCE and the broader consortium has put me in contact with a fantastic network of skilled, experienced and, importantly, helpful professionals, who have made the process very enjoyable.
“The covid-19 lockdown has itself been a challenge, but also an opportunity to build networks and learn new things digitally: I’ve never had so many webinars! I’m passionate about working for the benefit of local communities, and I’m optimistic and ambitious about what STCE is going to be able to achieve in the coming years”.
* Bonds are normally a shorter term investment, up to ten years with an agreed repayment schedule and interest rate. Shares are a longer term investment with the capital repaid gradually but as finances allow. Only shareholders are members of the society. More details will be contained in our share offer document.
Dave for the STCE Working Group
We managed to run one face to face meeting to kickstart the working group in Ash Village Hall on March 14th, just before the lockdown. We’ve had two online meetings for those who couldn’t make it on the 14th and will be holding further online meetings for the working group during April & May. It will be harder for the working group to get to know each other without face to face meetings but we’ll just have to manage.
We had over 50 people attend our launch events in Whitchurch, Shrewsbury and Wellington with 22 people indicating they’d like to take part in the next working group stage and 14 indicating a willingness to become a Director. Many thanks to Keith from CSE, Simon from Co-operative Shares Unit, and Julia from Shropshire RCC.
You can see the slides from the event here
It’s not too late to get involved.
We will have another event in Bishop’s Castle 2pm Fri 21st Feb, at the 3 Tuns.
and a webinar 7pm Wed 26th Feb,
We have also visited the Twemlows site and met with the landowner and operations manager, both of whom were interested and supportive. The site appears to be well built and well maintained.