The potential ecological impacts of ground-mounted photovoltaic solar panels in the UK

As the number of solar farms in the UK increases, there is growing interest in the interactions of wildlife with ground-mounted solar photovoltaic panels. Evidence of whether operational solar farms impact on biodiversity remains limited, however, particularly in a UK context. To address this, BSG Ecology has undertaken a literature review of worldwide research on the evidence of the impacts of solar farms on biodiversity. Birds, bats, invertebrates and other ecological features have been considered, the applicability of the findings to the UK situation assessed, and areas in which further studies are needed to address data gaps identified.

In order to address these remaining data gaps, it would be very useful if local authorities and developers could provide ecological monitoring reports for solar farms to us so that we can incorporate the results of studies in our review, which will remain a live document. It would be of benefit to both business and nature conservation stakeholders if a more comprehensive evidence base could be relied upon in assessing likely impacts, as well as in the design of appropriate and proportionate survey, monitoring and ultimately in the production of industry standard guidance. It would also be useful to understand the level of biodiversity benefit that has been achieved through management of habitats within and adjacent to solar farms during their operational phase, as national planning policy in England and Wales now requires development to deliver biodiversity net gain and greater biodiversity resilience respectively.

This represents an update of a paper produced in 2014.