Renewable energy helps farm look to the future

Renewable energy helps farm look to the future

A family of farmers is hoping an investment in renewable energy will help secure the future for the next generation.

NatWest’s Peter Reynolds, front, with, left to right, Mark Rowden holding daughter Myah, Roy, Stephen and Jayne Rowden

Roy and Jayne Rowden have worked Newlands Farm near Dartmouth in Devon as a poultry farm for more than 20 years.

The couple has always been interested in renewable energy and when two of their sons joined them in the business they used it as a way to diversify and secure the future of the farm.

Generating income

The 50-acre farm already has solar panels on its domestic buildings and workshops, and a biomass boiler to heat the buildings and chicken houses.

Now, with funding from NatWest, the family has installed a 50kw wind turbine. The farm is expected to use 60% of the energy produced and the remaining 40% will be sold to the National Grid.

“We have four boys and two girls, and two of our sons, Mark and Stephen, decided that they wanted to come home and work on the farm,” said Jayne. “It’s very difficult for youngsters to get into farming now because of property prices.

“We have two free-range chicken houses with 16,500 chickens, and that has been the focus for Roy and I for the last 20 years or more. We needed to increase the business with Mark and Stephen coming in.”

Expansion plans

The family has introduced beef farming, plans to expand its chicken enterprise, and also worked with NatWest relationship manager Peter Reynolds to secure lending to install the solar panels, the biomass boiler and now the new turbine.

“Roy and I have always felt that we ought to be harnessing nature’s free energy,” said Jayne. “You have to do it on a small acreage. We have funded it ourselves with the help of NatWest so that we can increase the farm’s turnover to help Mark and Stephen stay in agriculture in the future.

“NatWest has been brilliant. Peter has been professional but has become a friend as well. He is very supportive.”

Peter, an agricultural specialist, said: “Helping the Rowden family achieve their goals and ambitions to enable the family farming business to move onto the next generation safely is just one of the reasons I enjoy my role as agricultural relationship manager so much.

“Investing in renewable energy projects has the added benefits of delivering a sustainable and environmentally sound investment.

“NatWest aims to make things simple whilst bringing expertise and experience to add value to each transaction. We were pleased too to work alongside Amanda Burden of Luscombe Maye, who helped the Rowdens achieve the planning permissions they required.”

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