Rutland’s MP has hit out at Chinese ties to a massive solar farm on the Lincolnshire border as she urged the government to support Taiwan.
Alicia Kearns was leading a debate on UK-Taiwan Friendship and Co-operation in the House of Commons on Friday in which she called for the country to be recognised better in the international community and given a stronger trading relationship.
She said: “A trade deal with Taiwan would not only ensure access to semiconductor chips, but help the UK to achieve our net zero targets without compromising on our morals.”
In the past few years there have been increasing reports internationally that China is carrying out forced labour and ethnic cleansing programme targeting the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples in Xinjiang.
Several countries, including the US have previously officially declared that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and other crimes against humanity in the area.
Referring to the Mallard Pass Solar Farm, which will straddle the Lincolnshire and Rutland border she told MPs: “In my Rutland and Melton constituency there is a 2,175-acre solar plant proposed on good agricultural land, which is being developed by a de facto Chinese company with supply chains reaching into Xinjiang, the site of the Chinese Communist party’s genocide.
“I will not see Rutland’s soil tainted by mass human rights atrocities.
“I urge the Government to pursue a bilateral trade deal, because we know Taiwan produces quality solar panels free of Uyghur blood labour.”
The Mallard Pass Solar Farm development by Windel Energy and Canadian Solar would cover more than 2,000 acres of farmland across the Rutland and Stamford border area and would generate enough power for 92,000 homes. It would be eight times the size of the UK’s current largest solar farm.
However, campaigners, including Ms Kearns, have challenged the development due to a fear of a “sea of solar panels” across the county.
There are huge concerns around the loss of agricultural land across Lincolnshire, particularly when solar farms planned elsewhere are taken into account.
There are also concerns that the advantages of green energy from solar are outweighed by the climate impact of importing the panels from China.
In recent years, Lincolnshire County Council has been developing closer ties with China – including celebrating investments in the Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone and elsewhere in the county.
They have previously refused calls to walk away from China, instead opting to “remind them of their responsibilities”.
In recent months they have raised concerns over the number of solar farms.
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive councillor for environment and strategic planning, Councillor Colin Davie was asked for his view on the MP’s comments and the solar farm plans.
He said: “It’s important that developers looking at large scale solar farms demonstrate the benefits and costs of their proposals, including the impact of where they source materials.
“This should include the additional carbon output from production, shipping and installation of components, as well as any necessary import of food that could have been produced on this land.
“In many cases I believe the payback time to offset this additional carbon barely makes them worthwhile environmentally, let alone the damage these huge schemes could do to our nation’s food security and the impact on Lincolnshire communities.”