Plymouth bugs and bees, your new solar home is ready!
Bugs and bees will be checking into new ‘bug hotels’ on the Ernesettle community solar array, thanks to pupils of Ernesettle Community School.
The 4.1MW solar array, already built and generating enough energy to meet the annual needs of 1000 homes has been built by local social enterprise, Plymouth Energy Community (PEC), in partnership with Plymouth City Council and Four Greens Community Trust (FGCT).
As well as generating a locally owned clean energy supply that benefits the community, enhancing the site’s biodiversity is an essential element of the project. 18 acres of wildflower meadow have been established amongst 16,000 solar panels.
‘Local residents have been incredibly supportive of the array from the beginning’, says Helen Griffin, PEC project lead, ‘we want the site to benefit everyone, including bugs!’
PEC have teamed up with the Active Neighbourhoods Project at Plymouth City Council and conservation charity, Buglife via their Plymouth Urban Buzz project, to help each class at the school make a layer of the ‘bug hotel’ out of recycled materials. The wider community can also make a layer at PEC’s stall at the school summer fair on Friday 8 July.
‘Bug hotels provide a long-term, protected home for vital bugs, bees and amphibians’ said Ashley Tod, PCC Active Neighbourhoods Community and Volunteer Officer. ‘They are easy to make and encouraging pollinators on the solar site will enrich the wildflower meadow’.
Victoria White, Eco Club teacher at Ernesettle Community School said ‘It’s a fantastic exercise for the children to appreciate the importance of bugs in our ecosystem. They’ll also learn how the solar panels provide electricity without damaging the environment’.
Thanks to funding from the Postcode Local Trust (supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery); PEC will also hold a community tree planting day in the autumn to develop the wildlife corridors along the boundary. The Postcode Local Trust exists to fund community groups and charitable organisations through a variety of grant giving programmes.
For further information on PEC’s free services helping residents save energy and money on bills and to find out how you can ‘co-own’ the Ernesettle solar array with £50 or more, visit www.plymouthenergycommunity.com or call 01752 477117.
Jemma Knowles email@example.com 01752 304528
Notes to Editors
About Plymouth Energy Community and PEC Renewables
Winner of the Observer’s 2015 Ethical Award, the Community Benefit Society is one of Plymouth’s success stories. Formed by local residents in 2013 with support from Plymouth City Council, the organisation aims to change how Plymouth residents buy, use and generate energy. Now 1200 members strong, they worked quickly to establish partnerships providing a fuel debt advice service, switching service, home insulation schemes, healthy homes programme and an ‘Energy Team’ of trained volunteers providing home visits to those who need it most. PEC have already helped over 11,200 households, saving over £341,000 from fuel bills and clearing £180,000 of energy debt for residents really struggling.
Establishing PEC Renewables in 2014, they have raised £1.45 million in community shares; providing free solar PV panels to 32 schools and community buildings. They recently built a 4.1MW ground-mounted solar array on derelict land in Ernesettle. Built using short-term finance in advance of subsidy cuts, they now aim to maximise community benefit and keep ownership local through long-term finance from PCC and community shares. Surplus income from this locally-owned renewable energy generation provides funding for projects addressing fuel poverty and carbon emissions.
A Big Lottery funded programme of health and community-related activities in and around woods and green spaces across the city. The three-year project, which is led by Plymouth City Council, is being delivered in partnership with Devon Wildlife Trust and works intensively with residents in Stonehouse, Ernesettle, West Park and Honicknowle, St Budeaux, Kings Tamerton, and Efford. Find out more on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/activeneighbourhoodsproject.
Buglife is a charity devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and is passionately committed to saving Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles, and spiders to snails. www.buglife.co.uk
People’s Postcode Lottery
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