Fringe Box



Letter: University of Surrey Solar Farm Plan on Green Fields is ‘Unconvincing’

Published on: 2 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 1 Jun, 2023

From Katherine Atkinson

Independent chair, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

In response to Letter: Plan for Solar Farm is not Good for our Environment

The review by Natural England, on behalf of Defra, of the boundary of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure national protection for more of Surrey’s finest landscapes. The boundary was set in 1958 and has not been looked at by government since the AONB was established.

Solar farm library image.

The area proposed for the solar installation is part of land currently proposed for inclusion within the Surrey Hills. This would give its landscape, nature and biodiversity long-term protection.

But AONB designation isn’t just a theoretical construct. It also opens opportunities for additional resources for farmers and landowners, and it provides a mechanism for co-ordinated management across the whole of the Surrey Hills.

Permission for a solar installation of this magnitude may well mean that this land will not be included in a larger Surrey Hills AONB, and so will not have that long term protection nor the additional benefits mentioned.

Universities such as at the West of England and the University of Sussex have successfully installed large scale solar arrays on their own buildings. Sussex had all sorts of complications in doing this, including having to work around listed buildings.

The study of alternative provision for solar energy at the university is, as our planning adviser says, “unconvincing”. We would urge the university to take a more “can do” attitude to its assessment of the potential for buildings and car parks on the university campus to be fitted with solar panels before considering green fields.

Installations on site (first) would send a clear and positive message to staff, students and visitors that the University of Surrey is serious about sustainability and it might cause some people to think differently about how we all generate energy. Isn’t it the job of universities to make us think?

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: University of Surrey Solar Farm Plan on Green Fields is ‘Unconvincing’

  1. Nigel Keane Reply

    June 3, 2023 at 2:47 am

    The Grade 1 listed Natural History Museum at South Kensington has successfully installed solar panels on their roof which are hidden from view so as not to spoil the building’s appearance.

    As the Surrey University buildings are without real merit I can see no reason to place a solar farm on Greenbelt farmland when there is plenty of roof space.

    Unless the real reason is so, after the 30 year life of the panels, it can be claimed that the site is now brownfield and more housing can be built. This is, I believe, the University’s real long term plan. Sadly the GBC planning department appear to be their puppets in this type of scheme.

  2. Roland Dunster Reply

    June 4, 2023 at 12:59 pm

    Putting solar panels on developed/brownfield sites nationally could generate nearly the same amount of clean electricity as 10 new nuclear power stations (CPRE data). Any national or local authority, or indeed any owner of such sites, truly serious about tackling the climate and biodiversity crises, should not only view their use as an aim, but as a golden opportunity.

    In addition to protecting and enhancing our green spaces for wildlife, nature-friendly farming, flood protection, water quality improvement, and of course ourselves, this approach would preserve our beautiful local and national landscapes.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *