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Green energy boost for Festival Drayton project

A community-owned arts and entertainment centre in north Shropshire is celebrating a green energy boost, thanks to a local solar farm.

The Festival Drayton Centre has received £4,000 which has been put towards installing solar panels at the Market Drayton venue, thanks to the Twemlows solar farm community benefit fund managed by Shropshire and Telford Community Energy (STCE). 

STCE has now launched a share offer to take the Twemlows site into community ownership in a move which will enable local people who care about climate change to put their money to work to tackle the issue directly, earn a fair return on their investment, and greatly increase the solar farm’s financial contribution to the local area.  This is estimated to amount to around £4.5 million over the next 18 years.

The offer aims to raise at least £730,000, offering a target return of 6%. It has already passed £130,000 just a month after being launched.

Geoff Vernon, chair of Festival Drayton, said: “Festival Drayton Centre is a long-established charity and not-for-profit multi-purpose community and arts centre.

“We are a valued social hub for the area, providing opportunities for both volunteering and to experience cinema and events in our local community.

“With help from the STCE grant fund we have installed solar PV panels on the roof of our centre to provide solar energy for when we need it and to generate renewable power and heating to the building, making a considerable reduction in carbon emissions.

“As we run a coffee shop, cinema and live events in our centre, we are heavy users of electricity. The investment in solar panels will not only be cost-effective but have environmental benefits as well.

“We are delighted and grateful for the contribution the STCE grant has made to our investment in solar energy. This funding enables us to reduce our carbon emissions to benefit the environment, while also helping us to continue to provide volunteer-led arts and activities in Market Drayton.”

The new solar panels will significantly cut the centre’s large energy bill, helping to ensure the sustainability of the highly-valued community building.

Dave Green, secretary of STCE, said: “Our Twemlows solar farm is only nine miles from Market Drayton, and it is important to us that we support projects like these which will benefit our neighbours for years to come."

STCE is one of five community energy groups from across England and Wales to have joined forces under the Community Energy Together banner to launch share offers for a total of seven operational solar farms in the first scheme of its kind in the UK.

Pictured: Festival Drayton Centre