Solar farms and other renewable energy projects bring immediate economic benefits to landowners, but what about those who are neighbours to such schemes?
We are keen to support local projects, especially those with an renewable energy or energy efficiency theme. Solar farms are centres of economic generation and should participate in their communities like any other company. Ideas for projects include fitting solar panels to the local school, insulating houses, or sponsoring training. We’d welcome any ideas appropriate for the communities where our solar farms are based and will actively seek suggestions.
Solar farms make no audible noise and have no moving parts, so they are a lot less intrusive than many other forms of energy production as the only way to be affected by them is to see them. Solar farms are also very low profile, as the top edge of the panels is usually set at less than 2.5 metres above the ground. As they are stationary, they should not be distracting (like wind turbine blades) even if you can see them. All panels are south facing and angled towards the sky, so glare and reflection should not be an issue either. All of these details are reviewed thoroughly before we submit a planning application.
When Solafields review prospective sites, we are specifically looking for sites which would result in minimal visual intrusion for neighbours. When the project is being designed, we will also include planting schemes to minimise the visual impact for those who can still see the solar farm, so that the boundary edges look natural.
During design and construction, solar farms create all sorts of opportunities for local employment, which we strongly encourage. In operation, solar farms require little in the way of servicing or maintenance, but make significant rates contributions to the local authorities.