Cornwall Council has a commendable target to reach 100% renewable energy supply by 2030 and with current levels at around 40%, solar farms like this can help reach this target.
We recognise the concerns raised by Committee Members regarding the use of agricultural land, however we are confident that the benefits created from the significant uplift in biodiversity and the production of clean renewable energy, are substantial enough to outweigh the relatively nominal loss of agricultural land. The proposed development site represents just 0.02% of all agricultural land in Cornwall and consists predominantly of moderate quality, non BMV (best most versatile) agricultural land.
We will review the feedback provided and consider making an appeal against the decision. We believe that there is still a strong planning case for the proposed development in this location.
Solar farms can support farmers by allowing them to continue their farming practices on land outside the development with certainty. Sheep grazing within the solar farm offers a continuation of agriculture and the landscaping proposals across the site will enhance habitats for wildlife and allow the soil to rejuvenate.
The biggest threat to British food production is not solar PV generation on moderate quality agricultural land but is in fact climate change. The UK Government forecasts that a five-fold increase in solar deployment is required to reach net zero by 2050 giving us a fighting chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
Ground-mounted solar currently covers just 0.1% of land in the UK. Government plans to scale up solar are expected to bring this up to just 0.3% of the UK land area. This is the equivalent to around 0.5% of the land currently used for farming.
The proposed solar development at Carnhell Green has limited visual impact and generated very little in the way of public interest or opposition. We were encouraged by the level of support from some of the nearest residents to the scheme. The extensive landscaping proposals are calculated to offer a biodiversity net gain in excess of 60% over baseline conditions. We are also committed to offering a community contribution in the form of either a community benefit fund or a community share offer.
Following the successful completion of a 282MWp portfolio now operational in Ireland, Highfield Solar has secured project financing to fund the construction and operation of an additional Solar PV project with 93MWp of installed capacity.
We have recently divested one of our Canada solar farm projects to the indigenous community, Montana First Nation.