Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance - Solar development policy
For the WCEA's full briefing on solar developments - Click here
For commentary about the benefits of solar farms - Click here
In April 2014 we wrote to important decision-makers to draw their attention the WCEA solar development policy. Our letter, and responses we have received, appear further down this page.
We consider the following points to be paramount when considering support for solar farm proposals:
1. Solar developers should engage enthusiastically with the local community prior to submitting a planning application and throughout the consultation period. Local community includes site neighbours, relevant community groups, and parish or town councils. They should ensure their consultations are adequately publicised through a range of different media. Developers should demonstrate how public views and suggestions have been considered throughout the planning process.
2. Solar developments are particularly welcomed on roof tops or non-agricultural or brownfield land or, where greenfield, lower agricultural quality (Grade 3 or below), which can be enhanced with biodivesrity measures. Innovative schemes, such as water-borne developments, are also welcomed.
3. Scale and design of solar developments must be sensitive to nationally and locally protected landscapes and nature conservation areas, and existing contours should be used where possible.
4. Developers should minimise visual impact from key viewpoints and maintain appropriate screening throughout the lifetime of the project, for example with hedgerows and additional tree-planting to encourage wildlife.
5. Developers should enhance biodiversity across the lifetime of ground-based projects managed through a biodiversity plan, which should be published alongside other consultation documents.
6. Wherever possible, if an agricultural site is proposed, developers should ensure continued agricultural use during the life-time of the development, for example with sheep grazing and beekeeping.
7. Wherever possible developers should use local materials and labour in the construction and maintenance of their sites.
8. Developers and their contractors should act considerately during construction and decommissioning.
9. Financial bonds should be independently held to ensure land can be returned to its former use at the end of the project life.
10. Developers should ensure the local community is given an opportunity to share the benefits of a solar project - through a community benefit fund (guideline: £1,000/year/MW installed capacity); and/or the opportunity to invest directly through a community share offer; and/or a reduced electricity tariff or direct electricity supply to a local public building where applicable. Projects should also be used as an educational opportunity about the technology and benefits of renewable energy, for example by providing access to local schools.
Please note, our solar FAQ section will be available later in the year.
Letter to decision-makers
This letter, from the WCEA, was sent to influential decision-makers, including Jane Scott, the Leader of Wiltshire Council, and to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
As you may be aware, the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance is a campaign group which was set up in 2012 to help ensure fair planning treatment for renewable energy projects in Wiltshire.
We represent some 40 different environmental organisations, community groups and businesses the length and breadth of Wiltshire, representing collectively thousands of individuals - you can see a full list of our supporters on our website: http://www.wiltshirecea.org.uk/WiltshireCEA-Supporters.html
There is an important debate going on currently about solar energy in Wiltshire - and we want to make sure that you and your councillors are aware of the very strong support that exists within the county for well-planned solar farms. Unfortunately, we tend to be the silent majority.
Please find attached a short briefing document which highlights the key facts regarding solar farm development in Wiltshire. We hope you find this useful, and please don't hesitate to get in contact if you have any questions.
Sophy, ffinlo, Lesley, Chris, Nick, Mike, Rowena and Jack
Steering Group, Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance
Responses from decision-makers
So far we have received one response, from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. To read this message, as a pdf - Click here