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Discussion > Help with Solar Farm Objection

Hi All,

Please can you help. I'm working on an objection document opposing a nearby solar farm. We have all the detrimental environmental impact issues fairly well covered but I'm trying to put together some arguments against solar more generally - to counter the "we're saving the planet" and "fossil fuels are running out" arguments the subsidy farmer is using.

I'm looking for punchy memorable facts which can be backed up by calculations and references in an appendix. So the idea is that the councillors who just skim our document will pick up some facts to counter all the green propaganda they appear to have swallowed.

Here's what I've got so far:

Comments suggestions would be most welcome.


Jul 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

You could worse than start off by reading through this BH discussion.

Jul 12, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Your best option is to look through the submissions from other groups successfully fighting solar panel farms. On the surface the two main lines of defence seems to be visual aspect and reduction in viable farm land.

Jul 12, 2014 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Go with TinyCO2, they've already been greenwashed and won't believe that Solar is crap and inefficient.

Jul 12, 2014 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Thanks for the advice. Agreed that detrimental visual impact and misuse of farmland are the issues most likely to win a rejection. But my concern is that these effectively amount to "NIMBY" when there are much stronger economic and technical arguments against solar. If you don't even contest the economic and technical arguments you run the risk of some brainwashed councillor thinking "you know what; screw all these Nimbys! I'm voting for the solar farm in the National Interest and to save the planet!" So I think the technical and economic arguments need to be put - at least in an appendix to the objection doc. So really I was looking for tips & links on how best to make the case against solar in a few short points - so that I can at least plant some questions in their minds.

Jul 13, 2014 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Have you read this?

One thing you might want to look at is the disposal costs should the scheme close. Would there be a temptation for the owner to walk away from the field if the panels fail and/or subsidies vanish or maintenance costs grow too high.

Arable land used for solar panels means land cleared for farming elsewhere.

Unfortunately many of the reasons for not using solar don't apply if the total number isn't too high. At the moment the grid can handle solar power, it just makes it expensive. No one particular solar farm is identifyably one too many. The local affects of solar are less obvious.

There are concerns over frying birds but I haven't looked for evidence and may only be from certain set ups. Is there a road where glare might become a hazard?

Jul 13, 2014 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Thanks for that link and those suggestions for lines to pursue.

Unfortunately the application will only reach Pickles if our local planning comittee reject it first - and unfortunately the local council's planning officer is recommending approval.

I always felt glint and birds were lame reasons for seeking rejection - and the developer's got those pretty well covered by various reports from 'independent' consultants saying there's no problem.

Re solar being too small to impact the grid - my solution is to group it with other intermittent renewables (wind) and point out the economic and technical problems in balancing that much erratic power.

FYI I calculated the UK now produces an average of 83GWh of intermittent (wind & solar) every day. This is already way in excess of our 30GWh of pumped storage capacity. And that's on average. Think about worst case.

Jul 13, 2014 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

I know I have been banging on about this recently but....

This book shows that taking everything into account, ie installation/ servicing/ maintenace that the
Energy Return on Investmant from Solar PV in Spain is ~ 2.4:1

If you derate that by the ration of average solar insolation in Spain and Britain you get <1:1. Ie many
solar installations in the UK will never recoup the energy spent manufacturing and installing them. If
you believe that CO2 has ot be reduced, this won't do it, and they pump the lifetime's saving into the
atmosphere up front.

I don't know if these are grounds for an appeal but it's worth a look.

Good luck.

Jul 13, 2014 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Thanks for that Nial. David MacKay quotes a 4:1 EROI in his 'without hot air' book, and EDF quote a figure for lifetime solar PV CO2 emissions as 72g/KWh which works out about the same as 4:1. So clearly some disagreement over this issue.

I was wondering how much mileage I might get from the REF claim that the 2020 renewables target has already been met by approved capacity already in the pipeline - making any additional solar capacity unnecessary:

Jul 14, 2014 at 2:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

The difference might be that the guys in the book take a 'whole life' approach, ie including access road construction, an allowance for the concrete and steel required to mount the panels, fuel for vehicles involved throughout etc.

I haven't read No Hot Air for a while, time for another look.

Jul 14, 2014 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

Check out the postings on Unthreaded by Lord Beaverbrook regarding Liz Truss the new Environment Secretary. Might be a case of get your retaliation in first.

Jul 15, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Just a quick update to let you know the planning application was rejected by a 6-to-3 vote of councillors after a great effort by the local residents - amassing some 100 letters of objection and a 300 signature petition against. Victory!

Jul 24, 2014 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Well done.

Jul 25, 2014 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Hi Chilli

When I queried a proposed solar farm locally last year the promoters got the notion that I was a potential investor and sent me quite a bit of information by email.

if you want to contact me I will dig it out and forward it on to you as there was some interesting information, the most notable being how hugely profitable it is to investors.



Jul 25, 2014 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb


Only just saw your note about the planning victory. Well done!

My sincere advice to you is to keep your protest infrastructure in place because on a relatively narrow vote like this-by what sounds like a small number of councillors-I would be astonished if the promoters did not go to a planning appeal, assuming they had good grounds to

best regards


Jul 25, 2014 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered Commentertonyb

Thanks Tony & Sandy. Yes, this was actually their 2nd application for the site - (they reduced the size by a trivial amount then reapplied). An appeal is a possibility although apparently Eric Pickles has blocked a few lately.

The table on page 30 of the below DECC doc contains the shocking statistic that there are  242 of these useless eyesores under construction and a further 98 in planning!! They admit there's been a rash of applications recently; So many they're in danger of breaching the 'Levy Control Framework' (the cap that Osbourne put on how much of our money DECC can waste on these white elephants). So we can only hope the tide is slowly turning.

If they were all built that would take us up to 4GW capacity at a cost in direct subsidies of :
4GW x 10% capacity factor x 365 days x 24 hrs x £75 per MWh subsidy = £263 million pa.

Jul 25, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Well done Chilli,.

For future reference you might find this useful

Jul 26, 2014 at 2:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Thanks Tiny. Very interesting. I'm suprised that solar & wind are allegedly forcing *down* the wholesale electricity price. I expected them to force it up - eg. making it necessary for conventional stations to charge more to cover their costs when they're called upon at times of low renewables supply. Still trying to get my mind around that. I guess it's due to the fact that a goverment-rigged market no longer behaves they way you'd expect a proper competitive market to behave.

Jul 27, 2014 at 1:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Re the reduced wholesale price, in the body of the document into goes into more detail.

3.4. Lower wholesale prices
European wholesale power prices have declined in recent years. The reasons for this include increased participation of renewables in the market (especially PV during the day, reducing high mid-day prices), abundant and cheaper coal from the United States as a result of the impact of increased development of shale gas resources on American fuel markets that make exporting coal more economical, and the global financial crisis. While lower wholesale prices are problematic for power producers who struggle to obtain adequate compensation in the market for their costs, reduced wholesale prices have helped to keep retail market prices from rising as much as they otherwise would have by providing some savings that help to offset a portion of the cost of the renewable subsidy. Given the ever-increasing large amount of subsidies, retail rates would have increased even more if wholesale prices had not declined. However, as will be explained later, sharp decreases in wholesale prices are unsustainable, as owners of generating units will be unable to keep uneconomical plants in service. In turn, many of these plants will ultimately be required to receive capacity payments in order to be online to provide back-up power for periods of power variability.

So not all down to renewables, but cheap coal from America, which is cheap because of shale gas and the shale gas has reduced American CO2 emissions (if you think that CO2 is a problem) by more than renewables have reduced Germany's emissions. Not only that Germany is in an unsustainable position. That brought a little smile to my face by using sustainable energy the German market is in an unsustainable situation. It's well worth reading in detail.

TinyCO2 thanks for the link.

Jul 27, 2014 at 7:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Another article to consider

Jul 27, 2014 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I know the last conversations on this thread were almost a year ago, and the links and advice in themselves give me a good starting point....but if anyone's still listening I really need advice on how to organise and mount a village movement to oppose a proposal on arable land in our village.

The clever company has waited until the Parish Council has broken up for summer to invite residents to a drop in session on tuesday. My research shows this is a tactic - a wide invitation time window of several hours for individuals to come and effectively be worked on...groomed even with no presentation as such or specific point that opposers can raise points of issue and appeal to the community-this advice was actually published by the solar industry to prospective developers. I've also read conflicting views that a community's opposition in itself is not sufficient to throw out an application.

As you can tell, my natural tendency is to waffle - I need to get concise, factual and clued up quick - so need help!

The 9ha site is on arable land within 1/4 of a mile of an old power station, so it won't be inefficient in terms of what actually reaches the grid. But the old power station site owners last week had their own application approved for the redevelopment of it's brownfield site. So whilst it's proximity seems a negative for us who oppose, I'm hoping the old NIMBY accusation will not surface as we have been happy to see suitable and secluded ground used outside the village. Also we have a B&B literally a track's width from the upper edge of the proposed site, and access to it will be along their shared drive...someone suggested there were limits to the proximity of residential premises...I can't find any details on this though. Next, I've been trying to get my head around whether this will impact the members in the village who have established their own panels on house roofs. All of this is totally out of my experience and skills base, and I'm pretty clueless to be honest!

Any ideas or advice at all would be gladly received!

Jul 18, 2015 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered Commentermimi

Hi Mimi,

Sorry to hear your area is threatened by one of these ugly subsidy farms. Maybe I can help by sending you a copy of the docs we used to successfully defend our area.

Here's an infographic I produced to destroy the developer's claim that his subsidy farm would have minimal effect on our countryside. This was used as part of an objection dossier we produced and circulated to councillors before the planning committee meeting

(you can just skip the dropbox sign up page). 

Photos are a good weapon: Take lots of nice pics of the existing fields then compare and contrast with the industrialised glass wasteland of existing solar farms.

Lemme know if you want copies of our docs. I may be able to find links to them on our council website.

Jul 24, 2015 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Here's the council planning inspectors review of our application which covers the objections and issues considered:

The council's planning officer actually recommended approval but we managed to win the councillors vote by organising a mass of objection letters and by producing a detailed dossier debunking the developer's claims and presenting the case against. Our dossier isn't archived on the council website but I will see if I can dig up a copy if you like.

My recommendation is to get organised: a good way is to post a one sided A4 notice thru everyone's door drawing their attention to the development and encouraging them to write letters of objection. It helps if you write a sample objection letter with examples of valid grounds for objection - then distribute that along with the notice - if the local population tend to be older and not on email then it helps to include addressed envelopes to make it easier for people to object.

Jul 24, 2015 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

All this global warming is probably true,but its more of an excuse to make money. Take light bulbs, the old trusted filament lamp was simple did not take much energy to make,was not hazardous and could be recycled., now replace with energy hungry CFL,full of toxic and radiates RF and excessive UV, and takes nine times the energy to make.These "low energy" lamps are being forcibly replacing the old lamps.
Cars are another energy hungry machine, I could get 42mpg in a 1965 Morris Minor,I have had 85mpg in 1970 mini,newer cars are more efficient,you now struggle to get 40mpg!
Same with power drills and vacuum cleaners, drills 250w and cleaners 350w,we now uses 500w to power a drill and more than 1000w to run a vacuum cleaner.
Man's obsession with waste will continue .

Aug 4, 2015 at 2:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRaygas

Hi all,

Stumbled upon this thread as I have a planned Solar farm in the farm field behind my house. The company that are proposing it are doing so in conjunction with the farmer and local residents have been invited to give comments as the planning documentation is drawn up.

Would it be possible to send me your docs so I have a start to fighting this! Great info graphic by the way, where did you get the sizes and item list from?

Aug 8, 2015 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete