A church building behind a graveyard
The community solar farm will be developed on land owned by Enborne Parish (pictured). Image: Calleva Community Energy

Enborne Solar Farm, a proposed community-owned solar farm, has been granted planning permission by the planning authority of West Berkshire.

The solar farm will have a capacity of 3MW, and will be developed and installed by Calleva Community Energy. Sitting on the 20-acre Enborne Parish Field, which owned by the Enborne Parish Field Charity, solar panels will take up around 3.5 hectares of land.

The granting of planning permission marks a major step in a long process for the project, which began intital consultations with the community in 2021. In July 2023, Trustees of the Enborne Parish Field Charity wrote a letter of to the West Berkshire Planning Department declaring they were “very much in support” of the solar farm, adding “Given the climate emergency declared by West Berkshire District Council and the desire expressed by Enborne Parish Council to see a reduction of the carbon footprint of the parish this is an eminently sensible proposal.”

The letter added that the farm would “help to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from the approximately 280 residences in the parish and the rental income from Calleva will enable the Charity to function more significantly in support of other charity needs within the parish.”

Community Energy on the rise

Community energy – that is, energy projects that are local and controlled by democratic, member-owned groups – has seen a massive rise in popularity in recent years.

A report from utility OVO Energy revealed that seven in ten people would support locally-run solar projects, and the firm has partnered with several community energy projects in the Bristol area to expand the reach of local community energy projects.

Meanwhile, Bristol Energy Cooperative recently launched its new share offering, seeking to raise £1 million. This is Bristol Energy Cooperative’s tenth finance raise, and the first where it has partnered with Triodos Bank. Funds from this share offering will be used to bring an additional 1MW of solar energy to the cooperative’s portfolio, which the organisation claims will power almost 300 homes over the next 25 years and provide £130,000 of revenue for local community projects.

Since 2011, Bristol Energy Cooperative has developed several major projects, including installing rooftop solar panels on the recently refurbished Bristol Beacon venue.

In response to the rising popularity of community-owned solar, distribution network operator (DNO) UK Power Networks has launched a new tool to help local authorities source future sites for community-owned solar farms.