Sustainable Charlbury


Our share offer will be launched on 17th February at the Memorial Hall in Charlbury. Please visit our new website for SOUTHILL COMMUNITY ENERGY where further updates will be available.


Southill Solar public meeting 18th November

A big thank you to everyone that came to the Southill Solar public meeting last Wednesday. It was a great success with over 60 people attending and a lively hour of questions and answers.

As we move to the next phase of our exciting project we can confirm that we have had FCA approval for our new community benefit society – Southill Community Energy. This will enable us to raise shares once our share offer is launched in the new year. There was a fantastic response to our request for funds with £75,000 already promised and a further £52,000 pledged once shares become available.

We will soon be posting the FAQ’s raised at the meeting on this site to share with you the information covered in the discussion.


Great News!

Planning permission has been granted!

At the Uplands Area Planning Sub-Committee Meeting on July 6th our planning application for Southill Solar was approved by a vote of 7-5 in favour.

Thank you to everyone for your engagement and most of all for your support – this truly wouldn’t have been possible without the backing that you – the community – have given to this project. We had 5 times as many letters of support sent to WODC planning than objections and this was given weight in the balancing decision that the WODC officers had to make.

There is much work to be done now we have planning and we will post further updates as the project progresses. 


Sustainable Charlbury re-submits planning application for Southill Solar (ref: 15/01523/FUL )


Sustainable Charlbury re-submitted its planning application for the proposed Southill Solar community-owned solar farm on Friday 1st May.

The application is expected to be heard at the Uplands Planning Committee at its meeting on Monday 6th July.

We would really appreciate your support for this project and would like as many people as possible to submit comments of support for the planning application. You can do this here (this link will take you directly to the Southill Solar Planning Application:

Under the rules, it is possible to re-submit a scheme within twelve months of the initial decision provided the revised scheme is materially different from the original application. WODC has confirmed that our new design is materially different.

The new scheme

The original scheme was rejected by WODC on the grounds that the visual impact outweighed the benefits. The revised scheme has been designed to reduce visual impact to negligible or nil from all vantage points.  Other significant differences are:

  • the generating capacity has been reduced from 5.5 to 4.3 MW
  • the area covered by panels is 40% less, using just 8ha of the 18ha site
  • the panels are 30% lower in height, from 2.8m to 2.0
  • all the panels will be placed low in the valley, below lines C & D in our ‘Bring Your Brolly’ day
  • financial benefits will be channelled into specific energy saving and carbon reduction measures for key community buildings – the Corner House and Charlbury Community Centre as well  into landscape enhancement projects



Southill Solar and wildlife

Southill Solar aims to be an exemplar for wildlife management. The scheme proposes a range of habitat enhancements that will benefit native wildlife and that are in keeping with the wider landscape. This includes the creation of 5 hectares of new limestone grassland, a nationally rare habitat rich with wild flowers and grasses. Such grassland provides a food source and shelter for a wide range of pollinators such as bumblebees and butterflies, as well as birds and mammals. Areas of seed crops will be sown to provide food for wintering birds. Existing hedges and field margins will be enhanced and protected around the site for the benefit of farmland birds, reptiles and bats. Such enhancements go above and beyond the solar industry good practice guidance and will result in significant gains for wildlife and wild habitat. You can find further information on wildlife management for Southill in the Biodiversity Management Plan


Charlbury Green Investment Fund

Southill Solar is all about community. Integral to the project is the intention of benefitting the local community by distributing grants annually to projects that benefit the environment.  If planning permission is granted, Sustainable Charlbury will immediately set up the Charlbury Green Investment Fund for the benefit of the residents of Charlbury and for the advancement of the purposes of the AONB inthe parish and adjacent parishes.

A board of trustees will be responsible for the allocation of the surplus income from the site. Trustees will be nominated by the community interest company, the district and town councils and the AONB.

The surplus funds will be allocated for three purposes:

  • To conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the (Charlbury) area
  • To increase the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Charlbury part of the AONB
  • To reduce the carbon emissions of Charlbury by offering financial support to:
  1. the new Community Centre, specifically energy reduction measures such as triple-glazing and rooftop solar PV panels
  2. renovations for the 18th century Corner House, helping it become a comfortable, low energy community building and to act as an exemplar energy efficiency retrofit for other similar buildings throughout West Oxfordshire.

Charlbury’s Bring Your Brolly Day!

Given the community’s support, we decided to enlist people to help with the re-design and organised Brolly Day! This involved 100 people from Charlbury and its surrounds to come to the site to act as ‘lines of visibility’.

umbrella 0515

Our aim was to use people with umbrellas to allow us to establish at which gradients on the field the panel installation would be visible.  We marked out a 30m square grid across the field, from Charlbury to Fawler, and working down the slope of the field, resulting in four parallel lines A – D, which followed the contours of the land. We asked 100 people to come to the site for an hour and to stand at and in between the 30m points one line at a time.  The lines were asked to hold the umbrellas at 2.2m high (a little higher than the highest point of the proposed panels). The umbrella lines ran parallel to the hedge at 30m, 60m, 90 and 120m from the roadside boundary hedge running along the B4022.

In response to a klaxon, the lines moved down the field from A to D every few minutes.  Five photographers volunteered to photograph the resulting lines of umbrellas from five key viewpoints.  The grid plan is shown below.

gridplan 0515











Thank you!

To all the 100 + people who turned out last Saturday to help with the brolly day, it was a great success. Though there was a serious point about limiting  visibility behind the exercise, it was fun none the less and a very inclusive community event.

Positive press in both The Witney Gazette and The Oxford Times this week:

Witney Gazette and Oxford Times

And some pictures taken on the day

:brolly-day-pear-schnapps OT brolly pic brolly-day-picture brolly-day-field-picture brolly-day-group


Community Energy England (CEE) Announce AGM and First Executive Appointment

SusCha joined Community Energy England in May 2014. CEE are holding their AGM on Thursday 4th September and have posted the following:

The meeting takes place in Oxford Town Hall at 5pm on Thursday 4th September, directly after the OxFutures/DECC conference and before the community energy awards. We hope that you and others from Charlbury will be able to attend. Even if you can’t make it, you can participate in the AGM; either by nominating a proxy or by voting online beforehand.
The main business of this inaugural AGM is to elect a new board of directors. We are spoilt for choice with a good number of excellent candidates. The list of candidates with a summary for each is available on our website here. Each will also be given a brief opportunity to introduce themselves at the AGM. While the votes are being counted, we will update you on our progress and Kathy Smyth will launch the short manifesto we are using to promote new policies in the lead-up to the forthcoming general election.
Each CEE member is entitled to vote for up to nine candidates and we will leave it to you to consult your colleagues on how you wish your votes to be cast. The outcome will be the election of nine directors, which must include no less than five representatives of community members and no less than one from the private sector. This is in accordance with the Bye-laws, and the election will follow the process in Annex C thereof.
Whether you wish to attend in person, appoint a proxy or vote online; please register here. You will need your membership number which is CEM061. If you are voting online or appointing a proxy, it will also be easier if you read in advance the candidate resumes and decide who to vote for.
We are not forwarding all these details to other contacts within Charlbury because each member organisation can only vote once, but we are reminding them about the AGM date in case they want to attend in person. The final agenda will be sent to all those registered to attend, and will be available on the day.
We look forward to seeing as many members as possible on 4th.
Finally, we wanted to confirm that job applications for our first executive appointment are now open. Please let your networks know.

Click here for a link to the executive appointment application and the CEE website where more information is available.



News Update July 2014

Following the recent planning decision for the Southill Solar scheme Sustainable Charlbury has met with WODC planning officers to discuss options for a re-submission. Further updates will follow in due course.


Planning is in! March 2014

We are delighted to report that Sustainable Charlbury submitted the planning application for Southill Solar on Friday 14th February. This means that it should go to the Planning Committee on Monday 7th April 2014.

We know that letters of support will be important in helping us with a successful application, and we would be delighted if you felt able to support the application in this way.  We also understand that receiving lots of identical letters is not as helpful as different letters with a variety of points.  So rather than setting out the points for you to make in your letter, we are attaching a link to Southill Solar Community Engagement Report which we included in our application.  You may wish to use some of the ideas from the statement in your letter.

Please address letters to: Ms Dawn Brodie

Quoting reference: 14/0217/P/FP


or, post to:

West Oxfordshire District Council,
Planning Department
New Yatt Road
Oxon OX28 1PB

Many thanks.

The Southill Solar Team

 Sustainable Charlbury is delighted to introduce a major new project which should be of interest to everyone in Charlbury and our neighbouring villages

Southill LogoSouthill Solar is a renewable energy project that will produce green electricity for the next 25 years

Sustainable Charlbury is working with the Cornbury Estate and Low Carbon Hub in Oxford to create a 5MW solar park on the Fawler Road just outside Charlbury

This exciting new project has been made possible thanks to the offer of 30  acres of land by The Cornbury Estate. The site is between Charlbury and Fawler and so the views and opinions of Charlbury folk, as well as our neighbours in Finstock and Fawler, are being sought

5MW provides enough electricity for 1400 homes (roughly equivalent to the size of Charlbury)Southill Solar proposed site aerial View

Our plan is for a community-owned facility which provides attractive returns on investment to individual shareholders as well as significant annual financial benefits back to the local community from the operating profit

Read on….

One Comment

  1. Westmill solar has an excellent output

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