The proposed 2000-acre Mallard Pass solar plant has sparked mass opposition across Rutland, with 87% of those consulted concerned about the consequences it would have for biodiversity in the area.
The area in question is extremely rich in birdlife and deer and has water habitats, woodland, and areas of special scientific significance.
Disadvantages of solar panels to the environment are habitat loss, alteration in land use, the strain on water resources, flooding, exposure to hazardous materials, and pollution of soil, air, and water resources.
The initial scoping report submitted by the developers sought to ‘scope out’ an investigation into the impact Mallard Pass would have on Rutland Water’s bird population. The Inspectorate rejected this and criticised the failure of the scoping report to name ‘specific duck species.’ The Inspectorate also instructed the developers to ‘provide an assessment of likely significant effects on international statutory designates sites (Rutland Water)… provide evidence to demonstrate the absence of a likely significant effect.’1
The developers sought to scope out the likely impact of Mallard on ’98 national statutory local wildlife sites’ within two kilometres of the site. The Inspectorate did not allow this as the developers had provided no evidence to demonstrate that the sites would not be damaged.2
On protected species the Inspectorate said: ‘considering the change in landscape character and extent of land take required for the Proposed Development there is potential for likely significant effects on all protected species during operation, including ground nesting birds.’3
The Inspectorate also raised concerns about decommissioning of the site, stating ‘Given the potential effects during decommissioning are likely to be similar to those experienced during construction, including disturbance and damage to habitat.’4
1 https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/wp-content/ipc/uploa… p.11, ID 3,2,1
2 Ibid. p.12, ID 3,2,3
3 Ibid. p.13, ID 3,2,4
4 Ibid. p.13, ID 3,2,5
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton said:
“Since the proposal for the over 2000-acre Mallard Pass solar plant was first put forward, it has been clear that Canadian Solar, with its links to forced Uyghur blood labour, have not been serious about preserving our precious wildlife and environment.”
“The fact that the developers failed to name individual species in their scoping request is representative of their disdain for Rutland and Rutlanders as a whole. I know how damaging this solar plant would be to our environment and I will be highlighting this to the Government.”
“I am heartened that wildlife experts have spoken up and called out Mallard Pass for what it is – a highly damaging and inappropriate development which would have consequences for Rutland’s environment for decades to come.”
“Residents wishing to sign the petition against Mallard Pass can contact my office at email@example.com and I will arrange for some petition sheets to be posted to them – I will present the final petition to Parliament.”
Tim Appleton MBE, founder of Birdfair and Global Birdfair said:
“The development would cancel out the territories of the farmland and hedgerow birds which are currently present. Banthorpe gravel pit is just outside their boundary but fields used by grazing geese and resting egrets and herons are within it. It also negates all the open land currently used by hunting Red Kites, Buzzards and Kestrels.”
Ron Simpson, Chair of Centre for the Protection of Rural England Rutland said:
“Covering large swathes of the UK countryside with solar panels that could be more acceptably located on the roofs of commercial and domestic dwellings is definitely not the way forward. The Mallard Pass Solar Farm proposal is an outstanding example of how the nation should not address the challenge of climate change and our future energy needs.
Its huge scale with consequential damage to the Rutland environment is unacceptable to CPRE Rutland and its membership. The charity is concerned that the project may be approved through a nationally determined planning application. Government can expect vigorous opposition to this project unless it is significantly scaled back and receives the support of neighboring parishes and the local planning authority.”
John Clarkson, Head of Conservation at the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust said:
“The local area (and Rutland) is important for wildlife, because the vegetation of the east is heavily influenced by the underlying limestone (while in the west heavy clay soils predominate - this means that there is quite a variety of different habitats present).
Rutland contains some high quality SSSIs such as Rutland Water, Burley Wood, Merry’s Meadows, Seaton Meadows and Ketton Quarry. The species-rich neutral and limestone grasslands - of the quarries, meadows and some roadside verges - are particularly important for wildflowers and several species of invertebrate (such as glow-worms).
Rutland is not a well-wooded county, but there are clusters of ancient woodlands. Many of these woodlands are valuable for their particularly old trees.”
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