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What would the solar plant in the Ayots look like?

Solar developers are fond of showing pictures of sheep happily grazing on solar plants in their PR material. Indeed, WGC Solar have used an American, posed Getty image of sheep next to solar panels on their website. The reality is somewhat different:

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Miles of 3m high solar panels with 2m perimeter security fencing and CCTV cameras on high poles. 


Imagine these on this land in the Ayots, which can be seen for miles around with public rights of way straddling the site on both sides.


This is what the land looks like now....

...and this is the developer’s own image of what it will look like (and this is only about one third of the area of the site):

What's the future for solar?

We believe there is a place for solar, and that’s on brown field sites, rooftops, car parks and next to motorways. It’s not common public knowledge that the UK will produce 100% of its energy requirements from offshore wind by 2030 - when the wind blows. However, we will require a reliable source of energy for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. The objective is to phase out fossil fuels so the only current means of providing energy 24/7 is nuclear. Given that heavy users of energy 24 hours a day, such as data centres like Colt, require reliable energy all day every day, this solution is even more obvious. Solar is not a logical solution for such businesses – the only boxes it ticks are the PR ones.


The UK government has now recognised nuclear as a clean, emission free, technology and our prediction is that the inevitable implementation of small modular nuclear facilities will make large scale solar obsolete. The prospect of abandoned solar plants leaving panels rotting in fields does not bear thinking about, which is another reason why green belt applications should never be considered. However, placing solar panels on buildings, factories, warehouses, car parks etc for local use makes sense and that’s where the focus for solar should lie. Indeed new technologies mean that solar tiles and even solar glass will soon become mainstream products.

Spot the Difference

Here is a sensible application of solar on Bentley’s car plant at Crewe.

And here is a photo of Colt Data Services' premises in WGC.  Spot any solar panels? No, neither can we.

How efficient is solar?

A single wind turbine produces enough energy for 16,000 homes.  The 100 acre West Welwyn Solar Plant would allegedly produce sufficient energy for 10,000 homes – although of course it won’t as it wouldn’t be built for the benefit of the local community. This figure is probably an exaggeration as it will produce no energy overnight and very little during the winter months. However, it’s useful for comparison purposes.  As you can see, Colt could invest in a single offshore wind turbine and have a much greater net impact on its load on the grid – which it claims it cares so much about.

This video is an interesting watch: it shows a solar plant being built from start to finish.

And here is a link to the Solar Campaign Alliance, which campaigns for a secure green future to be built on the foundations of good long-term decisions, not driven by poor short-term commercial gains.

The CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England)'s position on solar energy states:

‘The need for energy does not justify damaging developments, and strong, effective planning policies are needed which enable schemes that minimise landscape impacts, secure real nature recovery opportunities and enjoy the support of local communities. Schemes that fail to meet these expectations should be refused.’


‘The location of choice for solar developments has become valuable farmland, ignoring the 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial roof space (enough to meet half the UK’s electricity demand) not to mention domestic roofs and surface car parks that could be harnessed with little impact on landscape, tranquillity and cultural heritage.’


Liz Hamilton in Hertfordshire Life, February 2022 has stated:

              ‘Agricultural land is valuable for many reasons other than food. These include informal recreation with its health and wellbeing benefits, wildlife conservation and, when soils are carefully managed, carbon sequestration. Farmland hedgerows and trees capture and store carbon, help to prevent flooding and soil erosion, and provide valuable habitats. These might not survive in and around solar panels where shade is unwelcome.’

The Ayot Green Belt is of exceptional quality.

It is a totally inappropriate place for this development.

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