‘NO SOLAR PARK ON HAARWEG! NO WAY!’ says a sign on (you guessed it) Haarweg. Just in case the message isn’t getting through, this is followed in smaller letters by: ‘Protect the outskirts!’ The sign has been there a while as a silent protest against the plan to place solar panels on seven hectares of WUR land. d.
I’m not sure what the status of the project is exactly and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s much of a hot topic within the university. Sure, the student union has complained. They think the roofs of all the WUR buildings should be covered with solar panels first. But it’s a subject that is rarely discussed during the coffee break, and never in terms of the fundamental underlying question: what role should the rural outskirts have if we really get going on the energy transition.
That is a pity but also understandable. Some people even see Leeuwenborch as the periphery of the university, which of course puts the Haarweg fields completely off the radar. Except for one day of the year. When the annual Earth Drilling competition is held in the field next to the planned solar park, the place is seething with people. So if whoever put up that sign wants to get lots of attention for their protest, they should seize their opportunity on Wednesday 10 October.
Anyway, it is worth taking a moment to examine the L-shaped area of grassland and the strip of maize stubble beyond. An insignificant-looking plot of land but the symbol of a debate that could do with broader involvement.