Lincolnshire legal firm enjoys success with award-winning renewable project

The award-winning site.
The award-winning site.

A major renewable energy project involving Lincolnshire’s largest law firm has just won a hat trick of awards.

A project to build the country’s first commercial anaerobic digester (AD) facility of its kind has won the Environment Impact Award at the UK Energy Innovation Awards, the Leadership award from the Renewable Energy Association (REA), and scooped the Making the Most of Biogas Award from the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association.

The team behind the project to build and run this AD facility, which sends green gas directly to the grid, is advised by law firm Wilkin Chapman LLP.

The facility, opened by The Prince of Wales at the end of 2012, was specifically set up to serve the Poundbury development on the Duchy of Cornwall’s estate.

It is the result of a joint venture known as J V Energen LLP, which is a partnership between the Duchy of Cornwall, four local farmers and Active Business Partnerships Limited.

It is the first commercial ‘biomethane to grid’ system in the UK, which produces biogas from local ‘break crops’ and food waste from local factories, which is then converted into biomethane and injected into the gas grid.

At peak, the plant will produce enough gas for the annual requirements of 3,200 new-build houses. The gas will spread through the distribution network to around 56,000 homes in summer and 4,000 homes in winter.

During the planning and construction phases, Wilkin Chapman LLP provided advice on feedstock arrangements, supply agreements with technology providers, corporate structures and funding arrangements.

The firm continues to work with J V Energen LLP on the project now it is operational, and is helping them set up their own green gas trading company.

Russell Eke, partner and head of corporate and commercial at Wilkin Chapman LLP, says he was extremely pleased the project had won awards so soon: “These awards are another seal of approval for a fast-growing technology which not only helps the environment but now provides tangible returns for agricultural businesses.

“To gain recognition from the UK Energy Innovation Awards – which represents the gas and electricity industry – as well as REA and the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association is significant because these are J V Energen LLP’s peers.

“They are associations that make a real difference at the heart of the renewables industry.

“Needless to say we are proud to continue to play our part in this project. These accolades recognise what can be done when you combine the knowledge, experience and ambition of a local business community with specialist expertise.”

“A project of this scale requires serious amounts of care to ensure all the right legal requirements are met – it’s frequently about working late into the night for our legal team, closely examining what are often new and fast-changing legal requirements; but it is what is needed to make sure a project as important as this can happen.”

Hamish Bichan from J V Energen LLP praised the law firm for the work it has done: “Wilkin Chapman LLP has been instrumental to our success in this project, and we are extremely grateful for their hard work and support.

“We always strive to be at the cutting edge of this fast growing industry, and to do that you need advisors who have an equally innovative mindset – which is why we worked with Wilkin Chapman LLP to deliver this project, and continue to do so.”