Protests against ‘blanket desecration’ by solar farms are undermined by their tiny footprint in the UK. There are far more crazy golf courses
The nimbys are mutating. Until recently the main opposition to renewable energy in the UK was directed against onshore wind turbines, along with some strong pylon-hating.
But today’s Times reveals the existence of solar farm nimbys too. You may not be able to read that story, it’s behind a paywall, but luckily it’s a pretty shameless replica of a story from the Daily Mail on Friday. It even has the same nimby, Robin Smith, who says his view of Somerset Levels has been spoiled, using exactly the same words: “It is blanket desecration of the countryside. I feel very sad that it is just for people lining their coffers.”
Not many disagree that the subsidy for solar photovoltaics at farm scale was pretty generous, though some argued it needed to be at first. But what strikes me is the actual area of land affected. The Mail said the countryside had been “transformed”. The Times talked of the countryside “disappearing beneath solar panels”.
The reality, as the both stories mention, is that 200 acres of solar farms now exist. That’s about 0.0003% of the United Kingdom. How to put that in context?
There are about 500 crazy golf courses in England alone. If we assume the average crazy golf course is about 63m by 63m in extent, then that conveniently is an acre. So more than twice the area of England’s green and pleasant land is “blanketed” by crazy golf courses than by solar farms.
Perhaps there are better comparisons, say go kart tracks or commercial dog kennels. Do let me know in the comments below.
But exaggeration is no stranger in nimby stories. Enjoy this gorgeous example, which not only exposes another nimby mutation – objecting to wind turbines being driven through a town on their way to installation – but also reveals a definition of how many people are required to “line the streets”. The answer is eight.