A Westcountry law firm has created a new dedicated team to provide specialist advice on the renewable energy sector for the region’s farmers, land and property owners.
With the rapid growth in this market and the South West designated the UK’s first Low Carbon Economic Area, Stephens Scown has taken the step of appointing Sonya Bedford as its new Head of Renewable Energy.
The specialist group, made up of experienced property, corporate and planning lawyers, are able to give legal advice on a range of matters including agricultural tenancies and compensation for loss of farming activities, options, leases and contractual issues.
The announcement comes as the firm, which has offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell, launches a new specialist guide on solar energy, aimed at farmers and landowners, available on its website.
The sector is estimated to contribute around £215 million to the economy every year - many farmers and landowners are being approached by renewable energy providers and might be considering diversifying or supplementing their income, following the introduction of feed-in tariffs earlier this year.
Commenting on the new team, Sonya Bedford said, “Increasingly we’re acting for clients with a really diverse range of needs in the renewable energy sector – this includes local farmers and landowners, domestic property owners, major wind farm developers and operators, as well assisting villages or communities across the region to install wind turbines or solar panels. We are also involved in advising on property issues surrounding the Wave Hub site in Hayle.”
She added, “Working with local planning experts, accountants and other financial advisers, it makes sense to bring together all our expertise in one place to provide a more rounded service for clients. Here in the South West, because of our geographic position we’re really lucky to be able to harness the natural energy that surrounds us and renewable energy is ideally suited to rural areas.”
Sonya is an experienced senior agricultural and commercial property lawyer and is a member of Stephens Scown’s rural team. She is a Member of the Agricultural Law Association, a member of Regen SW and a Professional Member of the CLA and Member of Women in Property.
She added, “Landowners can reap the financial rewards that renewable energy brings but it’s equally important that people get the right advice to protect their assets. It’s a development area that many people are starting to explore, but can be easily caught out by the small print or enter into agreements without seeking proper professional advice.”