We catch up with Sonya Bedford, head of renewable energy in one of the only legal teams in the country to focus exclusively on renewables work.
Describe your role
I head up the renewable energy team at Stephens Scown LLP. I set the team up in 2010 and we are one of the only legal teams to do renewables work exclusively. The team puts together deals which benefits investors, land owners and community alike. We work on projects involving many technologies including wind, solar, anaerobic digestion, biomass and hydro.
How did you get into your line of work?
Moving in to renewable energy law was a natural step from the land diversification work and sustainable development work I was involved in during my early career. My first renewable energy project was a wind farm near Bristol.
What are some of the key projects you’re currently working on?
I’m working on two very large solar projects, each with a capacity of over 20 MW. I’ve also been working with a local authority on roof top solar and we’ve recently had four planning applications for wind turbines go through.
What do you love about your job?
I enjoy helping clients with projects that will make a significant impact to our country’s commitments to renewable energy, decentralisation of energy and to make steps forward in the battle against climate change and help to secure a future for renewable energy in the UK.
What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
The opposition to wind power and uncertainty in the investor market.
What has been your most significant achievement in sustainability so far?
Knowing that the renewable energy team at Stephens Scown has worked on projects with clients that have generated 90 MW of power – enough energy to power the three towns where Stephens Scown is based - Exeter, St Austell and Truro!
Do you have any tips for engaging employees or customers on sustainability?
Make the information relevant and understandable. For example we are able to say that the power our renewable energy projects have generated is enough to boil a kettle 3 million times! We produced an infographic which clearly shows the impact of renewable energy and the part we are playing. This has been very well received by staff and customers alike. (You can access this infographic here.)
How do you see your sector developing in the coming years?
Hopefully greater consistency from Government on renewable energy policy and issues like feed in tariffs. This will allow the sector to plan for the future with greater clarity.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during your career so far?
To always trust my instincts.
What are your interests outside of work?
Singing in a band … and yes we do have some songs about renewable energy!
What’s your favourite motto?
Be the change you wish to see in the world