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Manor Farm, Verwood, Dorset

Manor Farm, Verwood – Large-scale solar farm, Dorset

The solar farm at Manor Farm in Verwood was connected to the grid in March 2015.

With a total installed capacity of 20.4 MWp it generates enough renewable electricity annually for the equivalent of around 6,000 average homes (almost all the homes in Verwood) and saves around 8,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Members of East Dorset’s planning committee commented it was unusual for such an application to be so well received.

“The environmental side has been very well thought through.”

Dorset County Councillor Steve Butler

“Typical future projects which might benefit from the community funding include improvements to a village hall, the acquisition of a community defibrillator, and restoration of a churchyard as a wildlife reserve.”

Jerry Laker, Knowlton Parish Council

In October 2015, everyone at Solstice Renewables was extremely proud to be awarded with best ground-mounted solar project at the Solar Power Portal Awards, for Manor Farm, Verwood. The judges commended the project for its discreet, well-located position with optimum generation capability, implementing industry-leading biodiversity and ecological measures on low-grade land, with exceptionally good community benefits and excellent support from local people. Click here to read more.

SPP homepage


Ecological benefits

We chose the site because it is flat, very well-screened from local residents and the land is low-grade agricultural land with exciting opportunities to enhance biodiversity. The land around the panels is being sown with wildflower seeds and native grasses to create a haven for wildlife, while sheep will graze around the panels in autumn and winter so it stays in agricultural usage.

Community benefits

A community benefit fund is being established which will pay c. £20,000 a year (index-linked) for 20 years. This will be shared between Knowlton Parish Council and Verwood Town Council and used to fund projects bringing environmental and social benefits to the area.

Additional educational benefits are also being offered to local primary schools in the area: Wimborne St. Giles; Verwood C of E; Emmanuel Middle; Hillside Community First and Trinity C of E First school in Verwood. Click here to read more about our educational benefits.

Local support

We were delighted to have such strong support for our plans for the solar farm during the planning process, and that East Dorset District Council voted unanimously to approve the application. Click here to read more about the planning consent or click here to read about the widespread support for this project.

The solar farm is now owned and operated by Belltown Power. Both Belltown Power and Solstice Renewables share the same shareholder – Berti Investments, whose mission is to reduce carbon emissions through supporting innovative, entrepreneurial businesses who share their ethics. So the solar farm will effectively be staying in the same ‘family,’ ensuring a consistent approach to working closely with the local community.

 

Verwood Layout and Planting Proposals

Click on the image to open a full version of the site layout

 

Below are a series of interviews discussing the proposed solar farm that were carried out on Forest FM during the public consultation.

Interview with Giovanni Maruca of Solstice Renewables:

 

Interview with Douglas Dalton the Landowner:

 

Interview with local residents: