Mallard Pass Action Group member sets out case against solar farm ahead of consultation events
Tony Orvis, a member of the Mallard Pass Action Group and a resident of Essendine, sets out his argument as to why the proposal which would cover 906 hectares of land in solar panels if given the go-ahead
“The terrible invasion of Ukraine by Russia has put both food and energy security high on the list of priorities of nations throughout the world. With Russia being a major international supplier of oil and gas and with Ukraine being the “bread basket of Europe” the invasion of Ukraine by Russia was always going to have a serious impact on the supply and price of energy and food.
In the UK, energy and food security are seen as vital in order to avoid future shortages and fluctuating prices.
Increasing renewable energy sources are seen by many as the way forward, reducing the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels and helping to meet “net zero.” Additionally, as it is produced domestically, renewable energy can make a significant contribution to energy security.
The need for food security has caused the Government to review some of its “green” initiatives. In the last few days, the Government has moved away from policies such as the landscape and nature recovery scheme. This scheme was introduced to encourage farmers to take land out of food production for ecology improvements. Now food security is seen as a more immediate objective with the Prime Minister backing “Grow for Britain” to boost domestic food production.
In many instances the need to generate energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, and the need to grow more food do not conflict. For example, many of the solar farms in operation have been built on brownfield sites, such as airfields, thus providing new sources of energy without impacting on farmland.
This is changing. Developers are seeking to construct solar farms on large areas of arable land. Permission is being sought for the construction of a massive solar farm on arable land in Suffolk, and of course, Mallard Pass is attempting to build one of similar size on arable land just outside Stamford.
Arable land is much more attractive to developers than brownfield sites. It is normally relatively flat, free from buildings that have to be demolished and, unlike some brownfield sites, it is not contaminated. Farmland is often owned in large blocks so developers have to negotiate with relatively few land owners.
It could be argued that the loss of food production, such as will happen with the Mallard Pass development if approved, is a price worth paying to obtain renewable, solar energy.
That might be the case if large solar farms were effective. They are not. Half of the time, the night, virtually no power is produced. During the day, light levels are such that the maximum output of the Mallard Pass Solar Farm of 350MW will rarely be achieved.
The developers of Mallard Pass Solar Farm estimate that it will produce only 11 per cent of its maximum generating capacity over a period of one year. This lack of effectiveness is why solar farms consume so much land. As a comparison wind farms produce 30 per cent of their generating capacity over the course of one year, have a very small footprint and can be located off-shore, where they are even more effective.
What then is the real motivation behind Mallard Pass? One would hope that is to help the UK achieve “net zero” or to provide cheap electricity. Perhaps energy security is upper most in the mind of the developers.
A large group of people will make considerable amounts of money from the development - the developers, the land owners, the army of consultants and advisors used by the developers to help prepare their case.
All of these people will profit from what will be a disaster for those having to live in the area.
Mallard Pass need not happen. It should not happen. Common sense should prevail. Solar panels can be located on brownfield sites. Crops cannot be grown on brownfield sites. Leave farmland to do what it should - produce food.
- A series of public information events on the proposals are being held as the developers behind the Mallard Pass proposal undergo a 10-week consultation stage.
The ‘stage two’ consultation, which started on May 26, is required by law and will be more important in helping determine the outcome of the solar farm than a preliminary consultation held last year. Find out more at: https://www.mallardpasssolar.co.uk/
Information events will be held at:
- Essendine Village Hall - Saturday, June 25, 11am to 5pm
- Stamford Town Hall - Wednesday, June 29, 3pm to 8pm
- Greatford Village Hall - Thursday, June 30, 3pm to 8pm
- Ryhall Village Hall - Friday, July 1, 12.30pm to 4.30pm
- Online webinar - Tuesday, July 5, 6pm to 8pm