Land use change for solar parks offers an excellent opportunity to enhance our natural environment. Within the UK a large proportion of solar photovoltaics are ground-mounted as solar parks. Yet, despite the expanding land area occupied by solar parks little is known of the impacts, both beneficial and detrimental, of their construction, physical presence and management on the landscape. The SPIES decision support tool uses existing scientific understanding to fill this important knowledge gap. For other energy-environment research and innovation, please visit www.energyenvironment.co.uk.
The SPIES tool is a decision support tool that enables the management of solar parks for environmental co-benefits. It has been co-developed with a cross-sectoral stakeholder group and is underpinned by over 700 pieces of evidence from over 450 peer-reviewed journal articles, ensuring both applicability and a robust evidence-base. It is a web-based application than enables users to select solar park management actions and ascertain the impact on ecosystem services and natural capital or select ecosystem services and identify which management actions impact them. The SPIES tool provides a robust evidence base to inform the potential ‘net environmental gain’, as stipulated in the Defra 25 year Environment Plan and reflected in the 2018 National Planning Policy Framework, of solar parks.