In the past year St Clere land has been on fire, flooded and flattened by winds, and now fried by a drought that shows no sign of ending. I’m furious and I’m going to use my fury to give myself energy and courage to fight the good fight when it comes to renewable energy.
For too long we’ve been asking our community yes/no questions when it comes to renewable energy. The type of question we are asked is; Do you object to a field mounted solar array in a field near your house? Yes/No. This is entirely the wrong way of discussing the challenge of energy provision and turns us all into NIMBY’s (Not In My Back Yard). The honest way of talking about it is to set out the options. The honest way is to ask: should we;
A Continue paying Putin for gas and oil AND have little control over our energy pricing and provision AND close our eyes to climate change
B Support some biomass/solar/wind/battery storage in every parish for home produced green energy provision in the near future
C Plan for regional nuclear power stations within 20 years and continue working on even better renewable options such as hydrogen
Of course none of these are at all perfect, but by rejecting option B & C we are taking option A, which is the worst of all and causing many of our biggest environmental, political and economic problems.
The reason landowners like me don’t offer their land for renewable energy is that the counter arguments to the green solutions are personal, aggressive, slick, practiced and circular and NIMBYs have become very experienced and effective in objecting. Some of their objections are complete nonsense, some have elements of truth, but none outweigh the desperate need to get going. In 2020 nearly half of UK energy usage was from renewable energy which shows it’s do-able. We just need to crack on.
At St Clere we’ve been cracking on to reduce our own carbon footprint for nearly a decade, with solar, biomass and ground source heating across the estate. But it’s time to use our land to produce renewable energy on a larger scale and I am laying down a marker here; St Clere is now open for business to solar, wind, biomass and battery storage solutions.
We have no desire to ruin beautiful landscapes which are what we work night and day to preserve and enhance, so we will look to use the least lovely corners of the estate. We would never use best quality arable land as we are committed to food production, and often farming can be continued underneath in any event. As for wildlife, this push will be paired with a push to improve biodiversity across the estate and a plan to plant over 100 acres of new woodland.
It is time to fight the good fight. If you are a renewables NIMBY, we are going to have agree to disagree. If you are a renewables YIMBY, we need your help as community support makes planning applications much easier and even small numbers of supporters can make a big difference. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a potential supporter and would like to be kept up to date.