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Guildford MP Supports University Of Surrey’s Solar Farm Plan

Published on: 13 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 12 Oct, 2022

By Emily Coady Stemp

local democracy reporter

Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson, has labelled a “blanket ban” on solar farms “unwise” and says she supports a bid by the University of Surrey for a site outside of the town.

Proposed solar farm location, outlined in red, is on land owned by the University of Surrey.

The plans, put forward by the university for a solar farm across three fields, are described as an “essential component” of the university’s target to be net-zero by 2030.

Early plans for the site can be found in a request for an environmental impact assessment screening submitted by SSE Energy Solutions to Guildford Borough Council.

See Consultation Starts On Proposed Solar Farm For University Of Surrey

A planning application, which had been expected in summer 2022, has not yet been submitted for the approximately 21.6 hectare site, called Blackwell solar farm in documents.

Angela Richardson MP.

Angela Richardson MP wrote on Twitter: “There is a planning application for a solar farm in my constituency which I support as it will help my local university meet its net zero aims by 2030.

“A blanket ban on solar farms would be unwise. Should be looked at on a case by case basis.”

The land is currently being used as farm land, and plans show the panels, of a maximum height of around three metres, could be surrounded by two-metre high fencing, with CCTV cameras on four-metre poles.

Prime minister Liz Truss could ban solar panel installations from most farms in England, with The Guardian reporting on Monday (October 10) that, Ranil Jayawardena, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was understood to oppose solar panels on agricultural land.

The report also said Jayawardena had asked that the definition of “best and most versatile” land be broadened to include the current 3b grade of agricultural land.

The screening request submitted to Guildford Borough Council said though there were different grades of land on the fields, the whole site would be farmed as grade 3b.

Documents also showed the applicants did not think the site would be visible from nearby villages or the nearby area of outstanding natural beauty, though two farmhouses nearby could have a partial view of it.

In a release about the project, being put forward with SSE Energy Solutions, the University of Surrey said once complete the site could generate enough energy to supply the equivalent of 4,000 UK homes each year.

Professor Bob Nichol, the University of Surrey’s executive lead for climate change.

Professor Bob Nichol, the university’s executive lead for climate change, said: “The University of Surrey community is dedicated to doing our bit to minimise global warming and our move to home-generated solar power is an important part of our plans.

“Big strides like this are essential for organisations to reduce their carbon footprints. Increasing our solar generation is just one part of Surrey’s sustainability story and our road to ‘Net Zero’.”

A university spokesperson said: “The University of Surrey is putting finishing touches to the application for the solar farm proposals we announced for consultation in May. We have not yet submitted a formal planning application, but will do soon.

“We welcome the support for this important green energy plan from our local MP and other local stakeholders who have engaged with us.

“We look forward to progressing the proposal, which is an important part of our sustainability story and our road to ‘Net Zero’.”

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Responses to Guildford MP Supports University Of Surrey’s Solar Farm Plan

  1. Chris Stanton Reply

    October 13, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    There is no reason why the proposed solar farm should ‘replace’ the agricultural land on which it would be built – simply add sheep! They would graze very happily beneath the solar panels and add a further economic benefit for all concerned.

    As the author (now retired) of Guildford Borough Council’s Rural Economic Strategy 2017-2022 I was actively promoting such schemes for their sustainability and support the university’s proposal here.

    While I am glad that Angela Richardson is challenging her government’s blanket objection to solar farms on agricultural land I am concerned that the UK’s post-Brexit environmental policy now appears to be under review by Prime Minister Truss and her new Environment Secretary, Ranil Jayawardena. Why?

  2. Gill Jones Reply

    October 14, 2022 at 9:14 am

    Why can’t solar panels be put on the university building roofs, car parks and open spaces on the campus that they have. In Europe they are very inventive in siting solar panels.

    The only thing that should be built on farmland is food! We are in a food security crisis and there is a rush to build on farmland, it must be stopped.

    Madness in the making.

    • S Callanan Reply

      October 14, 2022 at 12:16 pm

      That’s a very good question from Gill Jones.

      What’s the answer, Professor Nichol, executive lead for climate change?

      Editor: The Dragon has asked the University of Surrey to respond on why they can’t install the solar panels on roofs, car parks and other open spaces on the campus rather than on farming land.

  3. Keith Francis Reply

    October 14, 2022 at 7:32 pm

    SES [Sutton & East Surrey Water Services] wants to install a solar farm on Fetcham Fields which are not used for any agricultural purpose (not even sheep) outside Leatherhead, alongside the ponds used for its water supply, but probably due to residents’ objections it will never happen.

    There is a SCC primary school about a mile from that site and it is the only one I know of which has for many years had solar panels on its roof.

    I had solar panels installed on my bungalow’s roof in December 2011 just before the government halved the tariff and most successful they have been. The owner of the installing company was at a businessmens’ lunch in Maidenhead which featured on BBC South East News when she asked the then Prime Minister “why as a result of your policies, Mr Cameron, did I have to make 24 of my staff redundant before Christmas?” It was not an expected question and all he could do in reply was mumble incoherently.

    Beware of the installers and others promoting solar panels offering “special terms” to new customers as what’s in it for them?

    As an aside, I have a friend who has a heat pump installed at his new house and he’s not finding it any less successful than he was told it would be.

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