PGS: Solar Panels
The introduction of clean, green forms of energy in the form of the large scale installation of solar panels are broadly to be welcomed, primarily in the interests of achieving increased levels of sustainable power within the UK.
Nevertheless there are a number of key planning issues and these are listed as follows:
1. The solar panels should be mounted as close to existing ground levels as possible. Panels are possible to operate at only approx 2-3 metres in height (max) above ground level. Resist any significant changes to ground levels or the creation of 'made up' ground that might alter the natural contours of the landscape.
2. The erection of any associated pylons and grid connectors associated with the solar panels should not be encouraged. Therefore 'below ground' connection should be achieved so that the open countryside is not harmed by tall unsightly pylons and related equipment.
3. Use natural camouflage for security fences by keeping the panels themselves at lowest possible levels and use bush cover to soften the impact of site boundaries. High level security fencing will likely be seen as harmful to the open countryside.
4. Top grade farming land should be avoided for solar farms. Land grade should be stated on applications. If it is not then Planning Convenors and Planning Field Officers are advised to make this point (and to question land grade) when commenting on individual schemes. Low-grade agricultural land should be encouraged.
5. Applications should avoid constructing new tarmac (or other hard surfaced) access tracks. Sites should be serviceable by agricultural vehicles so that, if not required for solar farms in the future, the land can be more easily returned to agriculture.
6. In a similar way the land used for the panels itself should be easy to restore for agriculture if solar farms close in the future. Therefore the use of removeable pile driven and screw foundations should be encouraged and the use of substantial areas of hardstanding or extensive concrete bases for the solar panels should be opposed.
7. Materials used on solar farms should be carefully assessed if sited close to airfields due to the potential introduction of any distracting glare.
8. Account should be taken of issues of intrusive daytime glare if within proximity to protected locations such as listed buildings, ancient monuments and conservation areas.