Mallard Pass is a proposed 2,175 acre solar plant, over a fertile collection of fields stretching just north of Stamford and across Eastern Rutland, around the beautiful villages of Essendine, Carlby, Braceborough, Casewick, Belmesthorpe and Ryhall.
It would be eight times the size of the U.K.’s largest solar plant – the 250 acre Shotwick Solar Park in Flintshire. It’s the size of 1,400 football pitches. It’s so large that it can’t be approved by Rutland County Council – it has to be approved by the Government as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
We all want to play our part in achieving Net Zero – but this scheme would be a disaster for our environment, biodiversity, and our very way of life.
Together with Mallard Pass Action Group and local Councillors, I’m working to convince the Government to take residents' views into account – and stop this development.
You can read more about why we need to stop this development here – and add your name to the petition below.
All my best to you and yours -
15th March 2023 - Meeting with Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero
I met with the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to raise my concerns with the current lack of regulation around solar development across the UK. Grant agreed with me that solar on brownfield sites and rooftops is preferable and that he was currently working on a new energy plan, which will include provisions for solar. I will keep on pushing to protect our farmland, reject companies with human rights abuses and ensure solar is built at a sustainable size and pace.
27th February 2023 - Submitted a formal representation to become an interested party to the Planning Inspectorate:
- Size of Development: If constructed, Mallard Pass would be by far the largest Solar Plant in the UK to date. As such, full and proper consideration is required to assess the greater impact this project would have.
- Poor Consultation: Throughout the consultation process the developers failed to engage in good faith with the community or me as the Member of Parliament. I can speak to this from personal experience and on behalf of a community that feels let down. There is a total breakdown of trust and good faith.
- Local Opposition: The 1,042 consultation responses from a small rural community highlight the level of opposition. I have also collected over 2,400 signatures for a Parliamentary Petition against the development so far.
- Misleading Consultation Summary: The consultation summary submitted by the developers in their application is inaccurate in several areas, including misleading and false claims over topics discussed with me in meetings.
- Compulsory Acquisitions: The intent of the developers to request compulsory acquisition rights, not least on Bourne Rd, was not made clear during the consultation period. When I asked if they were planning to use them, I was told they ‘hoped not to.’ This seems a deliberate misrepresentation.
- Human Rights Abuses in Supply Chains: There are well documented accusations against Canadian Solar for human rights abuses in their supply chains, particularly concerning Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province of China. The US Government has sanctioned some of their suppliers.
- Windell Energy: There are substantial concerns over the financial record of Windell Energy’s leadership team and their suitability to construct a project of this magnitude.
- BMV Land: Government guidance is clear that energy projects should not be built on BMV land. The level of BMV land on this site is unacceptable and in clear breach of Government guidance to developers.
- BMV Testing: There are concerns over the accuracy of the testing methods used to determine the quality of the land across the site. These tests should be revisited and verified.
- Loss of Agricultural Land: Agricultural land is a key national asset that requires protection. This application does not satisfactory mitigate a loss of this asset on this scale or convincingly demonstrate that the land will ever return to food production.
- Traffic: The rural road network is not appropriate to accommodate the level of traffic this development would require. The presence of schools along likely traffic routes is also a serious safety concern.
- Loss of Natural Environment: There are concerns that the applicant’s assessments of the impact the development would have on the landscape are flawed. There is currently a technical landscape and visual assessment underway but more investigations are required to ensure any long-lasting changes to the land are properly considered.
- Damage to Biodiversity: The area is home to a plethora of wildlife, particularly rare wild bird species. The assessments taken by the developers have not properly explored the impact this development would have on these rare species. Local bird experts have raised concerns with me that some species have been missed altogether.
- Flood Risk: There are existing flood risks and a flooding history in the area that has not been adequately considered in this application.
- Recreation, Mental Health, Physical Health: The unprecedented size of this development and the fundamental changes to the landscape and communities affected will negatively impact the Mental and Physical health of residents. This has not been fully considered by the applicant.
- Time limit on Planning Consent: There is no time limit on the planning consent for this development. There needs to be clear timelines if the assumptions and promises in the application are to be feasible and accountable.
- Solar Panel Glare: The site is near Rutland Water, home to many rare bird species. Evidence shows that birds can mistake solar panels for water, resulting in major disruption to their habitats. Likewise, glare from solar panels can represent a risk to drivers in an area already suffering a high level of road accidents.
- Carbon Benefit: There are questions over where the panels will be built and with what energy. In China for example it is not uncommon for panels to be built using power generated by burning coal. When shipping is considered, will this project actually have a net-carbon benefit?
- Energy Production: There are questions over the accuracy of the forecasts for the amount of energy the project is likely to produce. If the estimates are inaccurate, the whole thesis behind the supposed benefits of the project is in question.
- Local Economy and Business: Local businesses reliant on the tourism draw of nature will suffer. The benefits the applicant claim the community will enjoy do not take account of the population demographics and types of employment that characterise the area.
I maintain the right to add or amend my representations should new information become available. The order of this list is not representative of the importance of any one issue.
23rd November 2022 - Letter to Canadian Solar and Windel Energy
I wrote to Canadian Solar and Windel Energy to request that they give a proper amount of time for local residents to make their representations.
1st November 2022 - Letter to Minister of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
I wrote to the Minister of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over allegations of forced labour in Canadian Solar’s supply chains.
20th September 2022 - Letter to Foreign Secretary
I wrote to the Foreign Secretary to request that he investigates allegations against Canadian Solar.
4th August - Submitted Objection Feedback for the Second Consultation
I have submitted my feedback for the second consultation for the proposed ‘Mallard Pass’ solar plant, which you can read below.
Since this development was first proposed I have held grave concerns and sadly the failure of the developers to engage properly with myself and the community have only added to these. From dropping out of a public meeting only a few days before to failing to meet with me in Parliament to discuss allegations of forced labour in their supply chains, a serious break in trust now exists.
This development should be refused planning permission for the following reasons:
• Size, 2,238 acres is too large and would make it over eight times larger than the current largest solar plant in the UK
• Loss of graded agricultural land, with the whole site classified as Best and Most Versatile under Government Guidance issued in 2015
• Allegations of forced labour in Canadian Solar’s supply chains
• Biodiversity and environmental concerns, particularly for Rutland’s rare bird population
• Traffic, particularly of lorries passing local schools on rural roads
• Flooding, with several areas effected already classified as at risk
• Poor public engagement by the developers
I would strongly urge anyone who has not yet done so to submit their consultation response by tomorrow. As always, if you wish to sign my petition against Mallard Pass please email me your address to Alicia.firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post a petition sheet to you.
I will continue to work in Parliament and the local community to fight this proposal. Please do your part and register your opposition today.
27th July 2022 – Letter to Rt Hon. George Eustice on Land Classification
I wrote to the Secretary of State for the Environment to request clarification over whether grade 3b land is classified as best and most versatile land. As the proposed site for the development is made up of 6% grade 2, 47% grade 3a, and 47% grade 3b, the question of whether grade 3b land is BMV is vital to determining whether Mallard will be granted approval.
22nd July 2022 – Contacted Highways England
I wrote to Highways England to request their opinion and share my concerns about the likely impact on our rural road infrastructure should Mallard be built.
19th July – Meeting with Rt Hon. Greg Hands MP to Discuss Mallard Pass and Canadian Solar
I met with Energy Minister Greg Hands MP to discuss Mallard Pass and the primary developer, Canadian Solar. I will continue to encourage the Government to scrutinise this proposal and it’s developers, particularly on the issue of human rights.
19th July – Meeting with Horizon Advisory Researchers
I held a meeting with researchers from Horizon Advisory who have been responsible for exposing the forced labour risks in Canadian Solar’s supply chains. It was extremely useful to hear about their research and has made it even clearer to me why we must fight this development.
28th June – Meeting Held with SHARE Advocacy Group
I held a meeting with a representative from SHARE, the organisation that has been working with concerned shareholders in Canadian Solar to hold their board members to account for failing to properly address accusations of forced labour in their supply chains.
22nd June – Letter to Rt Hon. Greg Hands MP on Canadian Solar Shareholder Actions
I wrote to Minister Hands following revelations that some of Canadian Solar’s own shareholders were working with an advocacy group (SHARE) to remove board members who had failed to act on allegations of forced labour in their supply chains.
4th June – Rutland County Show stall with Mallard Pass Action Group and CPRE Rutland the Countryside Charity
It was great to visit the Rutland County Show and to collect signatures for my petition against Mallard Pass with the Mallard Pass Action Group and CPRE Rutland the Countryside Charity. Thank you to everyone who signed – together we can stop this!
17th May – Letter to Rt Hon. Greg Hands MP about second consultation
I wrote to the Minister for Energy, Greg Hands MP, laying out concerns and inviting him to visit Rutland during the second consultation.
10th May 2022 - Letter to Residents of Villages Near to Proposed Solar Plant
I wrote to residents living near the proposed site for Mallard Pass to lay out my concerns over the proposal and to invite them to sign my petition, which I will present to Parliament. I have also launched a letter writing campaign, encouraging people to send a letter with their concerns to my Parliamentary Office at:
Office of Alicia Kearns
House of Commons
Please do write in but also remember to submit your objections to the consultation by emailing email@example.com
7th April – Essendine Public Meeting
I hosted a public meeting with residents to discuss the proposed Mallard Pass solar plant. The developers had promised to attend but disappointingly dropped out only a few days before. Everyone in antecedence agreed on the importance of our community coming together to fight this inappropriate proposal – thank you to everyone who gave their time and shared their thoughts.
30th March - Mallard Pass developers pull out of public meeting
Mallard Pass has announced that they will not be sending a representative to the residents' meeting in advance of the second stage of the planning consultation, citing the fact that ‘new information regarding our proposals for Mallard Pass will not be available’.
The meeting will go ahead, as planned, and Alicia Kearns hopes that Mallard Pass will change their mind and send a representative – a seat will be kept free for them.
29th March – Raising Canadian Solar’s human rights record in Parliament
I raised Canadian Solar’s human rights record in Parliament.
24th March – Letter to Prime Minister calling on Canadian Solar to be Sanctioned
I wrote to the Prime Minister to lay out concerns over Canadian Solar’s human rights record. I will continue to raise this issue with the Government and to make clear that Rutland will never tolerate such company building in our communities and on our agriculturally rich fields.
23rd March – Alicia Kearns calls for sanctions on Canadian Solar
Following revelations that Canadian Solar had shipments seized by the US Government for containing panels built with blood labour from Xinjiang, Alicia Kearns has written to the Foreign Secretary and Business Secretary to request that they seriously consider sanctioning the Mallard Pass developers for their use of slave labour in production of panels.
11th March - Alicia Kearns raises Mallard Pass at Westminster Hall Debate
In a debate on large solar farms in Westminster Hall, Alicia Kearns spoke about the human rights abuses that the developers of Mallard Pass, Canadian Solar, permits.
9th March – Alicia Kearns announces Mallard Pass public meeting on 7th April
Alongside the Mallard Pass Action Group, Alicia Kearns will host a public meeting at Essendine Village Hall on 7th April at 6pm.
This meeting is open to any resident of the Rutland and Melton parliamentary constituency, but spaces are limited. Spaces can be reserved here.
18th February - Alicia Kearns discusses Mallard Pass on BBC East Midlands
Alicia Kearns MP was interviewed by BBC East Midlands for their story about the Mallard Pass solar plant.
14th February - Mallard Pass Petition launched
Alicia Kearns has launched a petition to oppose the proposed Mallard Pass solar plant development.
In addition to the online survey, campaigners have been circulating a paper petition, which will be presented before Parliament.
11th February – Alicia Kearns is interviewed by ITV news about the scale of the proposed solar plant
10th February – Alicia Kearns raises human rights abuses associated with solar panels
In a debate on Taiwan, Alicia Kearns raised the important issue of how the panels that would be the basis of Mallard Pass.
9th February – Alicia Kearns meets DEFRA Secretary George Eustice
Alicia Kearns meets the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, to show him the scale of Mallard Pass, and to reiterate the country’s need to protect our precious agricultural land.
11th January – Alicia Kearns gets confirmation that the views of Rutlanders will be taken into account on Mallard Pass in the House of Commons
7th January – Alicia Kearns visits Mallard Pass site
Alicia Kearns has visited the proposed site of the 2,175-acre Mallard Pass, alongside councillors and members of the Mallard Pass Action Group
16th December – Alicia Kearns writes to developers to oppose Mallard Pass
Alicia Kearns lays out her opposition to the proposed 2,175 acre Mallard Pass solar plant in a letter to Canadian Solar and Windel Energy, developers of Mallard Pass solar plant.