Local protestors have picketed the entrance to the Large Scale Solar Conference in Cornwall today. 

The protestors are campaigning against the number and scale of large-scale solar projects being developed in Cornwall. The group are concerned that the cumulative impact of Cornish solar sites will damage the local countryside and are seeking to engage the council in a debate over its renewable ambitions.

Talking to Solar Power Portal, a number of protestors expressed their frustration over the lack of community benefit provided by solar parks for local residents.

“We have no issue with the deployment of PV on brownfield sites. However, there are a worrying number of power plants securing planning permission upon greenfield sites in the Cornwall area,” one said.

“Not only does this impact upon the landscapes of the Cornwall countryside, but in a number of cases farming tenants have been removed from their land as a consequence of land owners cashing in on the ROC scheme.”

Delegates attending the conference did not shy away from engaging with the protestors. Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association distributed a number of solar park factsheets amongst the protesters – one of which joked: “We don’t need facts.”

On a positive note, one protestor who expressed his concerns by email to Greg Barker this week, received a prompt response stating it was not the government's intention to deploy PV on greenfield or agricultural land as part of the Coalition's renewables energy targets.

The protests did not escape the attention of the energy minister, Greg Barker, who was the conference’s keynote speaker. During a wide-ranging speech Barker warned that although solar was the most popular of all renewables, it risked becoming “a bone of contention with the public”.

Additional reporting by Peter Bennett.