The U.K.-based Solar Trade Association (STA) says a recent Parliamentary debate on solar fields has given a clear warning to the solar sector that field arrays must be developed responsibly. The STA is concerned that poor examples of solar developments are damaging the industry's reputation.
Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wollaston, who called the debate, complained that solar farms were creating an ‘industrial wasteland.’ However, the MP acknowledged the desperate plight of many local farmers whose incomes had collapsed.
The STA says MP Greg Barker, minister of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), has welcomed industry initiatives to improve the standards of solar farms but said these did not go far enough. The organization quoted Barker as saying solar schemes must be ‘acceptable’ but that ‘new guidance’ would be coming from the Department for Communities and Local Government defining what constituted acceptable PV developments.
The STA says it has always recognized the need to develop solar fields responsibly and that it is preparing to launch a campaign to promote best practices, including developing on lower-quality agricultural land, minimizing visual impact and working with local communities.
‘We advised DECC to develop standards for solar farms last year,’ says STA Head of External Affairs Leonie Greene in a statement. ‘They didn't, and it's therefore no surprise that we're seeing some irresponsible schemes that risk damaging the reputation of the sector. Poor solar farms upset responsible solar developers as much as anyone … However, good solar schemes can and should support the local farmers [Wollaston] described, who are suffering collapsed incomes.’