Botley West would be the biggest Solar Farm in Europe, the tenth largest in the world, and the largest to be built on farmland anywhere on the planet. This is completely unconnected to developments in the technology which have made solar power generation cheap and efficient enough to be built even at UK latitudes, and at a larger size than before. Everything should magically get smaller over time, like iPhones. 

The larger the solar farm, the greater the impact. No Solar Farm of this size has ever been built near major settlements. This has nothing to do with the aforementioned advances in technology which make solar generation at this scale achievable - it's obviously horrifying. Property values decrease by up to 30% when utility-scale solar farms are built nearby. Please note that we are sneaking this point, so very important to so many of our supporters, at the end of a paragraph. In that way, we hope that you don't think that we're NIMBYs. Please also don't look up any actual numbers on property value reductions, which a recent study in the US suggested was actually closer to 2.3%.

Botley West Solar Farm will be built largely on Oxford's green belt. This green belt has done wonders for our house prices, as we've been able to fend off loads of new housing developments for people who want to live here. It also provides a lovely place for us to go and walk, and every year for some reason we don't want to learn anything about it gets that little bit warmer and lovelier when we go and enjoy the countryside we do our damnedest to stop anyone else living in.

There is a food emergency as well as a climate emergency, and Botley West would use around 1,400 hectares of generally decent agricultural land to generate power. Some people would say that using c.0.5% of a county's middle-grade farmland to generate at least 2/3 of its power needs would be a good trade-off, but not us! We think that that power should be generated somewhere else a long way away, or on rooftop solar panels slowly installed over the next 20 years or so.

Solar is inefficient. Sometimes it gets dark! How are the solar panels supposed to generate power then, genius? If something doesn't work all the time at maximum, we shouldn't bother with it. We should use offshore wind turbines instead, as they don't have to be built near us.

Solar doesn't generate energy in the winter. The idea of having a mix of renewable energy sources which peak throughout the year is confusing and disturbing to us. On 21st December 2022, the winter equinox and shortest day of the year, the UK generated 1.5% of all its energy from solar. Over seven days during the July 2022 heatwave it only supplied about 9% of the country's power because there’s not that much of it yet. So even in the depths of winter solar can still play a part, and then pick up more slack in the summer when there's less wind. This argument is like saying that farms are useless because wheat doesn't grow in December.

Claims are made for increased biodiversity within solar farms. These claims are made by researchers from places like the Universities of York and Lancaster, and Keele University, who've contributed to Best Practice Guides like this one, but what do they know? We've been educated at the University of Life, so I think we know more than they do about our fields!

The threat of flooding is very real (when solar panels are badly planned and installed, mostly on the sort of concrete pads which aren't planned for BW). We have zero comment on how agricultural practices worsened the UK flooding in 2000, or how farming itself can lead to soil not being able to absorb as much water as it otherwise would. We also don't have any comment on the increased flooding risk from climate change, as warmer air can contain more moisture which is then dumped torrentially, as has been seen around the world. This risk of solar panel-induced flooding is very real, and not made up as a desperate way of padding out the length of our list of issues.

Net Zero isn't Net Zero. We at Stop Botley West have been going around all sorts of meetings in West Oxfordshire to poo-poo the plans for the solar farm, making all sorts of 'creative' claims about the science. We might even have met with your local parish councillors! One of the things we so lovingly do at these meetings is throw up all sorts of doubt about whether Net Zero is even achievable, something which our campaign is actively making more of a reality every day! Why, we even openly doubt whether anthropogenic climate change is actually a problem! We're so proud of ourselves.


Par 2: The USA Today article cites this article, published in Energy Policy, 'Shedding light on large-scale solar impacts: An analysis of property values and proximity to photovoltaics across six U.S. states'

Par 4: "Generally decent agricultural land" - Natural England Agricultural Land Classification map ALC007, classifying most of the land as Good to Moderate or Poor. None is Very Good or Excellent.