In Essendine on Thursday evening, a packed village hall had the opportunity to ask Alicia Kearns MP, as well as members of the Mallard Pass Action Group, questions about the proposed Mallard Pass solar plant.
The developers themselves, who have repeatedly claimed that they are committed to bringing communities with them, cancelled their appearance at the meeting, having confirmed their attendance last autumn.
Covering a wide range of topics, residents made numerous points about why the 2,175-acre solar plant is not appropriate for Rutland, including:
- The enormous size of the proposed solar plant – 2,175, or 1,400 football pitches is simply enormous- six times larger than the UK’s next largest solar plant – Shotwick in Flintshire.
- Agricultural Land – Given that the plant would be built over Good and Very Good agricultural land, those at the meeting were concerned about how we would be able to make up the lost agricultural land, at a time when
- Local wildlife – There was significant concern that the impact on mammals of covering thousands of acres of Good and Very Good agricultural land with 12-foot tall solar panels, with the plant to be behind fences.
- The human rights record of developers Canadian Solar – Residents are concerned about the provenance of the solar panels, given the track record of Canadian Solar having had panels seized in the US due to its supplier, GCL, being sanctioned by the US Government due to their complicity in the human rights abuses of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, China.
- Flooding – The site includes high-risk flooding areas, and the developers have taken few, if any, steps to reassure residents.
- Local feelings – Residents want to know how they can have their say on this development, given that as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, it will be up to the Government, rather than the Council, to approve.
- Support for wind over solar – Given the climate of Rutland, residents were clear that they consider onshore wind to be a more suitable source of renewable energy for Rutland, and the UK.
Following the meeting, Alicia Kearns MP will write to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to lay out the opposition to the proposal among residents of the surrounding villages as well as to the Mallard Pass developers to set out all the concerns raised at the meeting.
The second stage of the consultation will begin in the coming months, giving residents another opportunity to lay out their views on the proposal.
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, said:
“For a huge solar plant like Mallard Pass, the views of residents have to be taken into account. It’s clear that there are serious concerns among residents about the giant solar plant – from agriculture to the developers’ links to Uyghur forced labour.
“Residents would have to live with the consequences of Mallard Pass for a generation at least – and villages like Essendine would never be the same again.
“I’m pressing the Government to listen to locals, and not grant permission for Mallard Pass to be built.”
Sue Holloway, Chair of Mallard Pass Action Group said:
“The Action Group is disappointed that Mallard Pass has declined to attend this public meeting with just one week’s notice.
“The residents of Rutland are hugely concerned about this development and wanted the opportunity to raise their questions publicly, so much remains unanswered following the public consultation in December.
“The recent Scoping Opinion response from the Planning Inspectorate highlights the inadequate level of detail provided by Mallard Pass to date, as they have tried to take out of scope so many important aspects of the environmental impact assessment work”