�40 million solar ‘farm’ complex for Yelland

Zero carbon complex would make North Devon a top green destination

PLANS have been unveiled for a revolutionary �40 million solar energy farm complex and holiday village on the old Yelland power station site near Barnstaple.

The eco-friendly scheme would see acres of solar panels atop 30ft high canopies, sheltering zero carbon holiday accommodation, landscaped facilities plus a photovoltaic solar panel factory, visitor centre and showroom.

Known as “DuneZED” It is the brainchild of renowned “green” architect Bill Dunster OBE of Zedfactory Ltd and has a unique local connection, with Barnstaple tourism consultant and town crier Tom Evans as project co-ordinator.

Now a public consultation has been launched at www.dunezed.com to find out what local people think and hear their views and ideas before applying for planning permission in March.

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Many innovations are proposed: Mr Evans says combining a solar farm with a holiday village under the wide reaching canopies has never been done before and in addition the project seeks to set up a water taxi service ferrying holidaymakers and visitors to various points in the Taw and Torridge estuary.

He said funding for the project has already been made available by a consortium of private financiers to the tune of �15 million, with a further five million in the pipeline. It is anticipated the site would be developed in conjunction with the land owners, Dick Huxtable and Paul Jury.

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Timing is crucial. To make it viable the scheme needs to tap into the Government Feed in Tariff scheme for generating renewable energy, which guarantees a fixed rate of payment but is set to end in April 2012.

“It has a definite statement to make, it’s not just there to make money,” said Mr Evans. “It’s there to change views, change lives and the nature of our relationship with the environment.”

The farm itself would generate more than four million kilowatt-hours each year, enough to power more than 900 homes. The factory would employ some 50 full time staff and make a new generation of solar panels for the roofs of private homes throughout the South West.

The landing craft style water taxis would be able to operate at all states of the tide and powered by vegetable oil.

The scheme would be constructed in stages, with the farm and factory followed by the holiday village and as the scheme paid for itself, adding a110-bedroom “Velotel” for walkers and cyclists.

It is hoped local businesses will be able to tap into the vast array of opportunities the project would generate.

The extraordinary plans came about when Mr Dunster – well known for the BedZED zero carbon Surrey housing development and the Jubilee Wharf at Penryn in Cornwall – was cycling past the old power station site on a family holiday with family friend Mr Evans.

“The idea is to take this beautiful location and show how you can have a zero carbon holiday, park your car and have everything taken care of and ferried to the pub, the beach or Barnstaple – all powered by the energy created by the solar roof, ” said Mr Dunster.

“The aim is to build a series of inhabited dunes so that the development blends into the landscape, rather than fighting it like so many modern developments.

“Because this site is so important to the future of North Devon we think we can make it the best green tourism destination in the world.”

If planning permission is granted they hope to have the solar farm up and running by summer 2012, the holiday village two years after that and the entire project completed within six to seven years.

They have urged local people to visit www.dunezed.com to view all the information on the project and numerous images of how it would look when finished, as well as to submit their own views or ideas.

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