Following recent protests in Balcombe, Sussex over the proposed fracking activity in the area, the controversial energy source has once again become a hot topic in the UK media. 

The extraction of shale gas through fracking has been known to cause small earthquakes and affect water supplies. Furthermore, despite producing half of the emissions of energy created through coal, shale gas still has an impact on climate change. 

Residents and green protesters were successful in their protests, but exploration could soon still begin at the site. 

In a recent poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Solar Trade Association (STA), some 40 per cent of respondents said they would rather see a solar farm in the local area when given the choice of four energy generation developments. 

The survey of 2,068 people revealed that 25 per cent of people would prefer to see a wind farm in their local area, whereas ten per cent would prefer a nuclear power plant. Only six per cent said they would rather see shale gas developments and boreholes. 

In order to battle the negative associations linked to solar farms, the STA has launched a 'Ten Commitments' plan for future solar farm developments. 

This includes a focus on non-agricultural land or low quality agricultural land for solar farms, sensitivity to protected land and conservation areas, and a minimum visual impact for solar farms in local areas. 

Furthermore, the STA said that best practice should see developers engage with the community before submitting plans to the local council, while encouraging land diversification through continued agricultural use and incorporating biodiversity measures. 

Final commitments state that local people will be employed as well as local suppliers utilised; consideration will be taken during construction and throughout the project's lifespan; local community views will be taken into account;  solar farms will be used as an educational opportunity; and the land will be returned to life once the project life has ended. 

Chief executive of the STA Paul Barwell said: "When solar farms are done well they can be a force for good in the local countryside, as well as building national energy security and protecting the global climate.

"For the UK, with its beautiful countryside, maintaining strong public support for solar farms is a challenge this new industry is keen to take on by delivering the very best practice."