Response to Planning Application P/2002/1095 – Solar Array on Fields in Rue a Vent, St Clement by JE
Updated: Apr 27
This response comes from Grouville Community Environment & Change (formerly Environmental Grouville). We vehemently oppose this planning application, the first of its kind in Jersey, which if approved would set precedent for installations elsewhere in the Island.
We should not be introducing solar farms on valuable agricultural land, at a time when Jersey needs to strengthen its food security. Whilst JE’s public consultation on 19th July at Caldwell Hall suggested that farming, such as sheep grazing, could continue around and under PV units, sheep farming is not economically viable. Our members are not convinced about any viable agricultural use with PV units. Maintenance of agricultural land must be done mechanically which would be difficult around steel piling. The loss of good quality agricultural land must be challenged and protected for the future of food production. With regenerative agriculture now being considered as a viable option in the future, farmers will have to farm more extensively. They will need more land to cope with lower yields and crop rotation.
PV panel production is linked to carbon emissions, toxic waste, unsustainable mining practices and habitat loss. Solar panels contain toxic metals such as lead and cadmium. They have a life span of 25years, possibly more, but they will become solar waste and it is estimated that globally there could be 78 million metric tonnes of it by 2050, which will be harmful for our environment and a major disposal issue. Large solar arrays on agricultural land using steel piling are unfortunately cost efficient for JE in electrical output to the grid and tech equipment. Renting agricultural fields is cheaper than renting commercial roof space. Tying up prime agricultural land for 40 years compromises the Island’s need for food security. This is a good example of profit maximisation driving an unsustainable solution.
There are alternatives for JE:
Use public sector and Parish roofs negotiating optimal rents or free electricity supply. Any perceived or real blocks to this must be resolved by our Ministers for Infrastructure and Environment to retain our beautiful landscapes valuable for wellbeing, to attract visitors to the Island, and protect our food security.
Subsidise domestic roof installations and make planning consents dependent on their installation. Currently homeowners make significant investments to derive free solar electricity. Present buy back rates are uneconomically viable to encourage homeowners to install PV units. The tech cost and loss of electrical output to the grid makes this option unattractive to JE and they are not currently looking at subsidising domestic installations. Another example of profitability driving the wrong decisions. Surely this could be made price neutral through gov.je’s controlling interest.
Rent large commercial building roofs.
These alternatives must be prioritised over the use of valuable agricultural land. The invasion of the Ukraine has and will continue to impact food and power supplies, exacerbated by global supply chain issues. Our Government is committed to investing in power generation through wind and tides, with a 10-year lead. Whilst solar power is our cheapest renewable energy source, and it can be quickly installed, profit maximisation of a company largely owned by the public of Jersey must not be allowed to drive the wrong decisions when there are other viable options available. Please reject this planning application.