Solar developments in the green belt

Within the green belt, a number of residents are voicing their concerns over solar farms. A recent application to construct a 24 acre solar installation in Burstow, Surrey, has been reported to have caused controversy with local people, over fears regarding visual intrusion (1).

The solar farm could generate enough power for approximately 1,575 homes. To accompany the solar modules, a security fence with CCTV will surround the site, which is equivalent to the size of 13 football pitches. The planning application also makes provision for the grazing of sheep around the modules.

The increase in development of solar farms can be seen from recent figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which saw a 79% increase in capacity between 2013 and 2014 (2). However, this increasing trend may be slowing down as recent reports suggest that the DECC is considering plans to cut subsidies to new solar farms by 2016 (3).

European Union targets require that the UK must produce 15% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, which would require an estimated increase of 30% on current renewable energy production (4). Given this requirement, should solar farms be fast tracked for development in the green belt or should the aesthetic concerns of those in the countryside be protected? The debate continues.

References

1. Developer plans to build solar farm on green belt. Surrey Mirror. Article published on 02/07/2015 page 17.

2. Solar PV deployment: December 2014, Department of Energy and Climate Change. (Online) Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/solar-photovoltaics-deployment

3. Small scale solar energy subsidies set to end. BBC Article published 22/07/2015 (Online). Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33619017

4. UK on track to meet its renewable energy targets. The Guardian, (Online) Article published 20/02/2015. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/20/uk-on-track-to-meet-its-renewable-energy-targets

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