Drafting leases for solar farms and leases for Biomass projects

Solar energy and biomass projects are becoming crucial for the world of renewable energy. With this, some farms with unused land look to the addition of solar panels in their fields, in order to diversify income and develop sustainable revenue streams. Hundreds of landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the country have already begun renting out their land in order to create these solar farms, or biomass projects. This is a relatively new concept in Britain, having first been seen in 2011, although they have been seen prior to this in Germany and other European countries since 2005. When it comes to drafting leases for solar farms and leases for Biomass projects there are a few significant factors that should be considered.

Duration

Duration of a lease for a solar farm is generally between 20-30 years on average, which ties up the land for a significant period of time. Typically, there are two phases to a solar lease: development/construction and operation. The development period will involve testing to see if the project is likely to work, environmental studies, transmission capabilities and other information gathering. The operations phase will occur when the project begins to produce and sell energy. When it comes to drafting a lease, carefully defining these phrases is important, as is defining what is required to occur to move from the development to the operations phase. With other biomass projects such as windfarms, the land owners generally have two main options: leasing the land for approximately 20 years, with no investment, or purchasing wind turbines for the project.

Farming Operation

Solar farms can generally affect the way the farm or land operates, however, unlike wind farms, solar farm agreements should include a grazing plan. This ensures the continuation of access to the land by the farmer. Although some farm animals such as horses, cows, goats and pigs have been deemed unsuitable for the multi-purpose use of the farm, due to their ability to dislodge the structures, or cause damage to cabling, but sheep and free-ranging poultry have generally been deemed as successful when managing grassland in solar farms. Conservation grazing for biodiversity, and agricultural grazing for maximum production have been deemed as good practice in the Agricultural Good Practice Guidance for Solar Farms. However, some biomass projects can affect field configurations, disrupt row orientation and create land fragments inaccessible to large equipment, alongside other operation issues. When it comes to drafting leases for solar farms and biomass projects, the potential changes to farming operation should be depicted, and the lease should also state how the farm will be compensated if land is taken out of production, or if crops and other property are damaged during construction or operation.

 

At HRJ Foreman Laws, our company & commercial department boasts a specialism in the specific practice area of solar farms and other renewables. To find out how we can help with leases for solar farms and biomass projects, or other renewable areas, contact us via telephone on 01462 458 711 , or via email on info@hrjforemanlaws.co.uk.

 

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