Leading South West law firm Stephens Scown has provided legal services for a pioneering community energy project, which aims to reduce carbon footprints and electricity bills on the Isles of Scilly.

The firm is providing a range of legal services to support the Isles of Scilly Community Venture in its engagement with Smart Islands – a programme which aims to improve energy infrastructure and efficiency in homes and public buildings. It aims to reduce islanders’ bills by 20% by 2020, and meet 40% of the isles’ energy demand through renewable energy by 2025.

The programme includes delivery of a new community energy ‘market’ – offering residents the chance to buy locally-generated renewable energy from an additional licensed supplier. The aim is to offer a greener and cheaper tariff, sharing the benefits of locally generated energy with the community. The scheme will be held in an asset lock, which means it cannot be sold on to a commercial owner. Stephens Scown has provided guidance on the legal framework behind the Community Venture and associated legal agreements.

The project also involves installation of energy-saving and renewable technologies in homes and public buildings. This will include solar panels, since the Isles of Scilly is deemed to be the best place in the UK for solar. Stephens Scown has provided template leases for solar installations and guidance on the transfer of solar assets.

Stephens Scown has also provided legal guidance on tariff contracts, power purchase agreements and data protection agreements.

The Smart Islands programme is managed by a partnership comprising The Duchy of Cornwall, The Council of the Isles of Scilly, Tresco Estate, Hitachi Europe Ltd and the Islands’ Partnership. The initiative also aims to achieve 40% of vehicles as low carbon or electric and to educate young people about opportunities in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Smart Energy Islands led by Hitachi Europe Ltd is the first project in the programme, receiving £8 million of funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

Sonya Bedford MBE, partner and head of energy at Stephens Scown, has acted for more than 20 community energy groups and is a director of several renewable energy organisations. She said: “We are very proud that the Isles of Scilly Community Venture team recognised Stephens Scown’s experience and capability in delivering community energy and renewables projects. We have appreciated the opportunity to apply our expertise on the Smart Islands programme, to help improve efficiencies and reduce carbon footprints and energy bills for residents of the Isles of Scilly.”

Jim Wrigley, General Manager of the Isles of Scilly Community Venture said: “Stephens Scown’s expertise has been second to none in assisting the Community Venture in its first year of operation as a Community Interest Company on the Isles of Scilly.  Most impressive has been their knowledge of the energy sector and their ability to tailor this perfectly to the context of community energy.”

The Community Venture was part funded during it’s start up phase by the European Regional Development Fund through the Voucher Scheme on the Isles of Scilly.

Sonya Bedford was awarded an MBE for her services to community energy in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year. She has built up one of the strongest energy teams in the South West at Stephens Scown.

Stephens Scown has 320 staff, including more than 50 partners, across its offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. It has ranked in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list for five consecutive years.