Our policy statement on solar energy installations in the countryside

25th September 2021

CPRE Hertfordshire has published its policy statement on solar energy installations in the countryside. The need for a policy statement on large ground-level solar energy installations and associated infrastructure in rural areas arises due to the increasing number of planning applications being made throughout Hertfordshire on open countryside, much of which is designated as Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and within the Local Plan as Rural Area Beyond the Green Belt. We make representations on planning applications in line with our objectives to protect the countryside and rural life and increasingly rural communities are concerned about the potential damage caused by large-scale solar energy installations.

Our published statement identifies the nature and scope of the issues relating to solar energy installations in rural areas. These issues include the need for sustainable energy, options for solar energy provision, agricultural land, landscape and visual impact, wildlife impact, manufacturing and decommissioning, fire hazard, reinstatement and community provision.

We recommend reasoned policy positions to assist individuals and communities in making representations to local planning authorities regarding planning applications for the inappropriate development of ground-level solar energy installations.  Our policy positions include:

Agricultural land – the use of ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land (Grades 1, 2 and 3a) for large ground-mounted solar installations should be avoided

Brownfield – the redevelopment of previously developed and brownfield sites for roof-top solar energy generation should be encouraged

Landscape – proposals for large solar installations in rural areas should be accompanied by a comprehensive landscape impact appraisal, and development which results in the loss, or change in character, of landscapes or landscape setting and views should not be permitted

Cumulative impact – planning decisions should take account of the cumulative impacts of multiple installations

Protected areas – ground-mounted solar energy installations should not be permitted in designated protected areas such as Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Rural Areas Beyond the Green Belt

Public and residential amenity – proposals should avoid harm to views from publicly accessible land and the surroundings of settlements and applications that result in the significant change in character of footpaths or other public rights of way should be refused

Biodiversity and wildlife – solar installations should avoid adverse effects on biodiversity and wildlife and deliver positive biodiversity gains

Read and download our full CPRE Hertfordshire Solar Energy Installations Policy Statement.

If you or your community is affected by a solar energy proposal, please Contact us to let us know.