Solarcentury has been working with the Solar Trade Association (STA) and other solar developers to develop a set of principles to guide the responsible development of solar farms. The best practice guidance, to which members of the STA will be expected to adhere, include buying and employing locally as much as possible, and pre-application consultation with communities to seek the support of local residents.
A survey into public support for renewable energy projects was conducted in conjunction with the launch of the STA commitments. The YouGov poll of over 2,000 people found that when presented with four options for energy technology located near them, 40% of those surveyed said their preference would be for a solar farm. A quarter (25%) said they would prefer a wind farm, one in 10 said their preference would be a nuclear power plant and just 6% opted for shale gas fracking and boreholes.
Seb Berry, Head of Public Affairs, Solarcentury, and STA Board member, said, “Solar PV is consistently the most popular renewable energy technology in public opinion surveys. The STA commitments reflect current good practice and have been endorsed enthusiastically by the Energy Minister and numerous green NGOs. We’re confident that a responsible industry-wide approach to future solar park developments will continue to attract widespread public and political support.”
Solarcentury frequently holds public consultation events to seek the views of local residents on proposed solar farm projects. Last week, an event was held in David Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency where locals in attendance were supportive of the Salutation Farm solar park that will generate enough electricity to power about 4,000 homes.
The STA 10 commitments:
We will focus on non-agricultural land or land which is of lower agricultural quality.
We will be sensitive to nationally and locally protected landscapes and nature conservation areas, and we welcome opportunities to enhance the ecological value of the land.
We will minimise visual impact where possible and maintain appropriate screening throughout the lifetime of the project managed through a Land Management and/or Ecology plan.
We will engage with the community in advance of submitting a planning application.
We will encourage land diversification by proposing continued agricultural use or incorporating biodiversity measures within our projects.
We will do as much buying and employing locally as possible.
We will act considerately during construction, and demonstrate ‘solar stewardship’ of the land for the lifetime of the project.
We will seek the support of the local community and listen to their views and suggestions.
We commit to using the solar farm as an educational opportunity, where appropriate.
At the end of the project life we will return the land to its former use.
For more information on: solarcentury