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Discovering wildlife at Says Court Solar Farm

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Posted: Tuesday 17th May 2016 by WildSchools

Says Court Solar Farm: Community and Education Activity 2015/16

School sessions at Says Court Solar Farm

Located between Frampton Cottrell, Coalpit Heath and Yate in South Gloucestershire, Says Court Farm is home to a large-scale solar installation covering around 90 acres and providing power for 4,000 homes.

Through granting planning permission Westerleigh Parish council secured a fund for community benefits, for the life of the solar installation. Some of this funding has been received by Avon Wildlife Trust for community engagement and education programmes relating to the solar farm. We are also monitoring the impact of the installation on the site’s species diversity; where measures are being implemented to plant trees, create barn owl corridors and wildflower meadows. 

We have been working in partnership with the Council, the Bennett family (who own the farm) and the solar installers to implement various projects at the site and during March 2016 we took 150 year 5 and 6 pupils from two local primary schools to see the renewable installation; Watermore Primary, Frampton Cottrell and Abbotswood Primary, Yate.

At the farm and with extension activities back in class the pupils took part in curricular-linked programmes, tying in with science and geography, looking at: 

• What are renewable technologies and why do we need them?
• What is the impact of the solar farm on the local environment, wildlife and community?
• Different habitats at the solar farm, including hedgerows and recently sown wildflower meadows; using quadrat sampling to look at the different species present and searching for other signs of wildlife present (year 5)
• The physical landscape (both human intervention and natural features); creating sketches of the solar installation and surrounding areas and discussing the impact on wildlife and biodiversity (year 6)



Pupils from Watermore Primary explore a hedgerow habitat at Says Court Solar Farm









Left: The solar installation, Right:Pupils from Watermore Primary School look at the species present in a recently sown wildflower meadow, using quadrat sampling techniques

We will be working at the site for a number of years and we look forward to seeing how the measures taken for wildlife establish, as we return with new classes, year on year. 

Community engagement

Over the next few years we will be monitoring the site with trained volunteers to make our own assessment on the impact of creating a solar farm. The local community will be encouraged to get involved and enjoy the local landscape through active community days and family nature activities.

The first phase of this has been to provide information about the site and the local area so that people can independently enjoy the countryside and be more knowledgeable about the associated wildlife. Two boards have been designed and sit alongside a public footpath that runs along the east side of the solar farm.

Further details about family days and nature activites throughout 2016 will be available from our website

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