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  1. #1
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    Potential vast solar farm in Oxfordshire

    We have just received a "community consultation leaflet" about a proposal for a solar farm.

    www.botleywest.co.uk

    Virtually all the land in the Northern Site Area is very productive arable land which grows wheat and barley. Every few years some of the land grows rape seed.
    In the Middle Site Area the farmland is a mix of Arable and Dairy farming again very productive.

    The leaflet claims that there would be continued agricultural use which could include sheep grazing, bee keeping, allotments and community gardens!! Not sure how that could work as every existing solar farm locally is surrounded by deer fencing and CCTV to keep people out. A farming friend who has a solar farm on an area of poor land says it is almost impossible to effectively manage sheep in a solar farm as they tried and failed. The sheep scatter and hide under the panels it is exceedingly labour intensive on the day to round them up to provide necessary care worming, feet trimming, shearing etc etc. The existing local solar farms have all been on land that was of poor agricultural value and/or very prone to flooding so that is actually a good use for that land.

    Interestingly Blenheim Estate backs this (a fair chunk of the land belongs to the estate) however none of the luxury 4-6 bed houses they have recently had built in Woodstock has any form of Solar panels on the roofs. This is a development of about 30 houses which the District Council refused planning for but the estate won on appeal to the planning inspector. Neither have they built the solar farm they have planning permission for which was supposed to power Blenheim Palace.............

    I know we "British Isles" need to become self sufficient in energy but we should also maximise our food production as we currently import a huge % of food and it seems counter productive to put solar farms on proven productive farmland. (
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  2. #2
    Prior Member Tim Digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cazyoung View Post
    I know we "British Isles" need to become self sufficient in energy but we should also maximise our food production as we currently import a huge % of food and it seems counter productive to put solar farms on proven productive farmland. (
    This is a difficult equation with lots of "estimates and best guesses" . The problem is compounded or simplified, depending on view point, by a capitalist system, this means that we are not trying to maximise food production but maximise PROFITABLE food production. During WW2 owing to the enormous cost of shipping food to UK (in lives as well as pounds) a drive to truly maximise food production took place, since then market forces have gradually dictated and more recently financially supported the "return to nature" of less profitable land. Whether it is possible to utilise land for both green energy and food production (leaving aside crops for bio diesel) is as yet undetermined but that doesn't stop arguments and project proposals from both sides. I believe there is not enough productive land in the UK to support the current population in the manner to which it has become accustomed, but we have been remarkably successful in convincing the world otherwise, vis those risking life to cross an exceedingly dangerous bit of sea to come here.
    Evolution is great at solving problems. It's the methods that concern me.
    Tim Digger

  3. #3
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    Huge warehouses are appearing over all over the country. Why can't planning permission for these be subject to having solar panels on their roofs? This is wasted space which could be usefully used. One argument was that solar panels are too heavy but there are now lightweight thin solar films available.

    A German company has also produced solar roof tiles which can be fitted to new houses in place of conventional roofing. It would be far better to adopt approaches such as this than cover huge areas of productive countryside with solar farms. Taking productive arable land out of use only to then have to import food to compensate with the corresponding impact on food miles seems counter productive.

  4. #4
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Carr View Post
    Huge warehouses are appearing over all over the country. Why can't planning permission for these be subject to having solar panels on their roofs?
    Because planning permission has to be within a legal framework and there is no requirement for PV's. Councils can't demand what they want from a development without a justification through legislation. The basic principle is you have to find reasons to deny planning permission, not find reasons to grant it.

    Building consent is different. L2 sets out fairly strict standards for balancing energy consumed. Warehousing is low energy use so doesn't need a lot of mitigation to meet L2 so no real justification for installing PV except maybe for offsetting the cost of powering admin areas.

    Warehousing isn't a huge earner. So now you have to add additional structure for what is just a shed. You have to add safe access for maintenance, a ladder up the side of the building doesn't cut it. You have to budget for people to maintain it. You have to add more infrastructure. Then you get all the nimby locals whinging about how it looks. Who pays for it? A tenant is going to either go elsewhere or pass the cost on to you as a customer. A developer has a business case for funding as well and it doesn't take much to tip the balance. Right or wrong, warehousing might seem like a wasted resource for PV's but nothing is free.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  5. #5
    Tofu eating wokerato Chrisch's Avatar
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    There are quite a few solar farms round here. Lots of nimbies and right wingers moaning about them too. The #1 priority for human beings is to counter the existential threat of climate change. It is a shame this whole thing has become another idiotic culture war victim. The core of the problem was the government's decision to effectively stop the growth of building based PV installations by cutting the feed in tariffs. That is why only big solar farms make any money and why people are not putting PV on their building roofs.

    The sub-human shitbag Truss (thankfully gone now) tried to stop solar farms on "farming" land. The reason solar farms are on land and not on the roof is the Tory party. It would be very simple to reward people for fitting PV to their buildings. Farmers tend to have large barns which are often ideal for such deployment. Our industrial estate has many large warehouses that could generate electric but the roofs are bare.

    Tim is correct - it is about profit, not about the environment. The right wing of the Tory party has become UKIP and climate change deniers. We need them out of office as soon as possible. There are still some people in the Conservative party that do care about climate change - we need them to lead that party so voters have a real choice about the economic and political model they wish to support but that both parties (indeed - ALL parties) support everything needed to combat climate change.
    We give 350m a week to the EU. Let's give it to Dido Harding instead.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdeadyet View Post
    Because planning permission has to be within a legal framework and there is no requirement for PV's. Councils can't demand what they want from a development without a justification through legislation. The basic principle is you have to find reasons to deny planning permission, not find reasons to grant it.
    Yes, it requires government action not local councils - some strategic thinking to encourage using such vast areas as warehouse roofs through making it financially viable. The latest solar panels that are available are thin film and can be rolled up. Developed by a Swedish company. They don't need a strong sub-surface. Very little maintenance needed. Cleaning done by robotic brushes. Yes, they are currently more expensive than common solar panels but economies of scale could bring this cost down.

    There is a farm in our village which is a consolidator for smaller local farms. They have a huge grain drying barn, the roof of which is covered in solar panels. There are businesses who are doing environmentally friendly actions.

  7. #7
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisch View Post
    Farmers tend to have large barns which are often ideal for such deployment. Our industrial estate has many large warehouses that could generate electric but the roofs are bare.
    Superficially maybe. In reality, probably not. Barns were unlikely designed for much more than the minimum loads required at the time. Putting anything on the roof isn't just the weight of the plant, it's its effect on wind loadings, it increases the snow loadings. Barns are cheap, half of them barely stand up under their own weight. The coverings are usually fragile too so maintenance access is near enough impossible. Everything you put on the roof needs to be designed with safe access in mind. But I agree it should be encouraged for new builds, preferably subsidised.

    Space isn't the issue though. There is plenty of space. It's a cliche but anyone who has spent ten minutes working in infrastructure knows NIMBYism is the biggest reason for opposition to everything. All sorts of reasons are dreamt up but the basic bias is that no-one wants to see it when they look out their windows. That's generally what it always boils down to and they'll invent all sorts of reasoning to paper over it, but it's almost always that at heart. People want to look at fields of crops or maybe cattle (and happily ignore the ethics of both monocropping and dairy farming). They don't want to look at PV farms or wind turbines. It's the same regardless of what is being provided. Everyone wants the benefits of the project, no-one wants to see it. They want the bog to flush, the kettle to boil and the bins to get emptied. Just don't do everything you need to do here. Do it somewhere else. Where poor people live preferably. The same people who demand clean and cheap energy are the same ones that moan about having to look at any infrastructure.

    A lot of it is misguided. We have very little wilderness in the UK. The vast majority of our open space has been shaped by humans. The Lake District Fells, the Highlands of Scotland, the Downs, every single part looks that way because of human intervention. At some point we need to make uncomfortable decisions that go beyond charging an extra 50k because your house has a nice view. Your ancestors shaped that view for practical reasons, because they needed to to survive. We need to make that same choice.

    I live in a rural, farming area. If the farmer across the roads wants to get rid of his cows and farm energy instead I don't really care. We've gotten used to cheap food and cheap power but that was never going to be sustainable.
    Last edited by notdeadyet; 03-11-2022 at 09:39 AM.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  8. #8
    Tofu eating wokerato Chrisch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdeadyet View Post
    ... All sorts of reasons are dreamt up but the basic bias is that no-one wants to see it when they look out their windows. That's generally what it always boils down to and they'll invent all sorts of reasoning to paper over it, but it's almost always that at heart. People want to look at fields of crops or maybe cattle (and happily ignore the ethics of both monocropping and dairy farming). They don't want to look at PV farms or wind turbines. It's the same regardless of what is being provided. Everyone wants the benefits of the project, no-one wants to see it. They want the bog to flush, the kettle to boil and the bins to get emptied. Just don't do everything you need to do here. Do it somewhere else. Where poor people live preferably. ...
    Yes, so very true. We also want to export our "recycling" to poor countries where we don't give much of a shit what they do with it. The present government even wants to export our asylum seekers to a poor country where no one gives much of a shit what they do with them.
    We give 350m a week to the EU. Let's give it to Dido Harding instead.

  9. #9
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisch View Post
    Yes, so very true. We also want to export our "recycling" to poor countries where we don't give much of a shit what they do with it. The present government even wants to export our asylum seekers to a poor country where no one gives much of a shit what they do with them.
    One of the things you will get the biggest resistance to is a recycling plant. The opposition is ferocious. You could put an asbestos products factory on a school playing field easier than build a recycling plant anywhere.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  10. #10
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Carr View Post
    Very little maintenance needed. Cleaning done by robotic brushes.
    Doesn't work like that, still needs to be designed with a safe means of access in mind for anything that can potentially fail or require maintenance.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England


 
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