Make solar farms wildlife reserves say nature groups

Solar farms are the perfect place for wildlife reserves, according to new advice from nature groups and solar researchers. The guide was launched today at Kew Gardens by groups such […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Solar farms are the perfect place for wildlife reserves, according to new advice from nature groups and solar researchers.

The guide was launched today at Kew Gardens by groups such as The National Trust, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust with the Solar Trade Association and the BRE National Solar Centre.

They said solar farms often take up less than 5% of the land they are on, leaving scope to develop protected habitats to support local wildlife and plant life.

Around 2.5GW of solar farms have already been built in the UK. In the Government’s recent solar strategy, ministers emphasised “sensitively sited” projects and pushed for solar on rooftops. Today’s advice seems to be the industry’s answer to criticism of “inappropriately large” projects.

The guide’s author Dr Guy Parker found biodiversity can be “greatly enhanced” on solar farms compared to arable farm land, in particular bumblebees and butterflies.

He said: “As an ecologist I’ve become very interested in the potential to use solar farms to boost biodiversity. I conducted some preliminary research on four sites which demonstrated a significant increase in the monitored species as compared to surrounding farmland.”

Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director of the National Trust added: “We are keen to work with and encourage the solar industry to do more to help protect the wildlife and landscapes that we love forever.”

Earlier this year ELN visited London’s Wetlands Centre to find out what impact fracking could have on nature reserves.