As the news of Strata Solar’s application to develop a solar farm in Richmond and Lancaster County has spread, many locals are researching what the development would exactly entail and are also voicing their concerns about the development. Strata Solar’s representatives have spoken their case to Richmond County and Lancaster panel members as well as locals, but many people are left feeling as if they are receiving half-truths from the solar company.
One of the initial concerns that locals have is that the potential solar farm could reflect the solar farm that is in Essex County. Locals have stated that the Essex County solar farm is not compliant and does not look kept up the way that they imagined. The site plan is expected to stretch onto Maon Road, Cedar Grove Road, Ridge Road and Quinton Oak Lane and is expected to impact over 100 landowners. In addition, the Essex solar farm is 175 acres, which is only one tenth of the proposed 1,632-acre Richmond County site, which is comparable to the size of two Regan International Airports.
Another concern that locals have stated is the risk of runoff, contamination and wild life. Many solar panels are coated in Teflon to replace glass and cadmium to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. Cadmium is a heavy metal often associated with lead poisoning and birth defects. Cadmium can lead to kidney, heart and liver damage and, sometimes, death. Locals are concerned that, if damaged, solar panel runoff could include the toxins of Teflon, cadmium and more and seep into the land, as well as Lancaster Creek.
Currently, North Carolina is battling an issue of GenX and related chemicals contaminating their water due to solar panels. Richmond County locals are worried about the state of the oyster beds located in the Lancaster Creek, if they come in contact with runoff. In addition to the oyster beds, other wildlife are called into question on how the solar farm could affect them. With a solar farm of over 1,600-acres, many animals will lose sources of food and pathways. According to Scientific America, birds can find themselves mistaking the panels for beds of water and instantly dying after flying into the concentrated beams of sunlight.
The development of a solar farm could bring in a nice amount of revenue for Richmond and Lancaster County; however, not everyone is convinced that the development would be best for the Northern Neck. Some have stated that it goes against the nature of the Northern Neck and could create a habit of unwelcomed developments coming into the historical Virginia land. Potential loss of wildlife, land and tourists have locals concerned that a solar farm may have more cons than pros.