SURVEY REVEALS CONCERNS OVER CORNWALL’S SOLAR FARM DEVELOPMENTS
Cornwall's solar policy needs to be more thoroughly thought through to work in tandem with the county’s natural resources, landscape and tourism industry to prevent it from having a negative impact on the county according to the findings of a new survey .
Undertaken by St Austell based advanced renewable technology firm Outlook Energy in the light of growing concerns about the increasing development of Solar Farms in the county, the survey revealed that whilst 66% of people in the county believe solar energy can be beneficial for the county they believe it needs to be managed properly to work with Cornwall’s natural habitat.
Over half of those surveyed said they thought Solar Farms had a negative impact on Cornwall’s natural landscape and could impact on tourism whilst 91% believed solar panels would be better suited on the roofs of existing commercial buildings across the county.
Outlook Energy Director Ross Sundercombe said the findings of the survey showed that whilst people in the county are largely supportive of solar installations the size and locations of them are a cause for concern and one that needs to be listened to.
“Cornwall has the opportunity to be the UK’s leader in solar energy, creating many hundreds of jobs and receiving multi-million pound investment not to mention reducing the impact of rising energy prices by producing our own energy through the power of the sun, but the survey shows that there are very real concerns by people living in the county about the impact of large scale solar farms and the use of green field sites for them,” said Ross.
“In a county which is so heavily reliant on tourism, the fact that the majority of people believed solar farms in the county could have a negative impact on our natural landscape should act as a warning as to how we manage the opportunities that Solar energy provides so that it works in tandem with tourism and our natural environment and not potentially against it,” said Ross.
“Whilst 36 per cent of people surveyed agreed in principle with solar farms, they preferred for them to be sited elsewhere, with 91% saying they believed the roofs of existing commercial buildings across the county would be better suited for solar panels – over 40% more than the next popular answer which was domestic roofs.
“The reality is that as a county – we really don’t need to use up our green spaces for placing solar panels in – we have thousands of businesses in commercial buildings – from barns on farmland to schools, shopping centres and industrial units – which are ideally placed for housing solar panels – the equivalent of hundreds of acres of open space up and down the county that could house panels out of sight, creating the same amount of energy and seeing the millions of pounds of investment from the Government’s Feed in Tariff payments which this would generate being kept in the county benefiting our businesses and not, as is often the case with large scale solar farms, being received by a small group of investors who may not actually live here,” he added.
According to Outlook Energy – which works with businesses across the county to plan and mange solar PV installations to enable them to reduce their power costs, become more energy efficient and benefit from Feed in Tariff (FiT) payments – people in the county recognise the opportunity that Solar presents, see the environmental benefits of tapping into it but believe that large scale installations in the county’s green spaces are not necessarily the answer.
For more information visit Outlook Energy at www.outlookenergy.co.uk or call them on 01726 874328