Net zero meets NIMBYs: Inside the battle for UK’s biggest solar farm

By Nicholas Earl | 03/12/2024 07:01 AM EDT

U.K. politicians have pledged to quadruple solar generation by 2035. There is one problem — no one wants to live next door to acres of fields crammed with solar panels.

EYNSHAM VILLAGE HALL, OXFORDSHIRE, England — On a winter afternoon, dozens of local residents pour into a drafty village hall, tucked away in the picturesque English countryside. They wear thick coats and skeptical frowns, and are here to fight plans to build a solar farm on their doorstep.

Meet the NIMBYs. Local, polite, mostly gray-haired — and a nightmare vision for U.K. politicians trying to honor their climate promises.

If hammering out deals at global climate summits is difficult, it has nothing on trying to push through clean energy projects across Britain’s green and pleasant land. Net zero may have been written into law in Westminster, but the frontline of the battle to go green is in rural community halls like this one, where residents organize to insist: Not In My Back Yard.


U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he is committed to making sure net carbon emissions hit zero by 2050. His likely successor, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, is much more an instinctive environmentalist and even more bullish about the country’s green ambitions.