Industry slams reported ‘anti-solar’ government plan

The new Environment Secretary is allegedly considering tightening planning rules for solar projects

Big Zero Report 2022

The government is allegedly planning to introduce stricter planning rules for new solar power developments.

According to The Guardian, the new Environment Secretary, Ranil Jayawardena, opposes solar panels being installed on agricultural land.

For this reason, he has ordered his officials to review what is classified as “best and most versatile land” (BMV) to include the middling-to-low category 3b.

Currently, solar farms are being built on and planned for 3b land.

If such a plan moves forward, it would mean that solar would be banned from about 41% of the land area of England, or nearly 58% of the agricultural land, according to the report.

In a statement, trade association Solar Energy UK commented: “This would have the effect of tilting the planning system against one of the very cheapest and greenest sources of energy available.”

Solar Energy UK Chief Executive Officer Chris Hewett said: “The UK solar sector is alarmed by attempts to put major planning rules in the way of cheap, homegrown energy.

“Solar power is the answer to so many needs and policy demands: it will cut energy bills, deliver energy security, boost growth and help rural economies.

“Ranil Jayawardena’s opposition to solar farms must surely make him part of the anti-growth coalition.”

In case you missed it, listen to the Net Hero Podcast, which discusses the issue with countryside charity CPRE. 

A Defra spokesperson told ELN: “The environment, farming and economic growth go hand-in-hand, and as stated in the Growth Plan, we are committed to increasing our long-term energy security and strengthening the UK’s food security.

“That’s why we will be looking at the frameworks for regulation, innovation and investment that impact farmers and land managers to make sure that our policies are best placed to boost food production, increase resilience, drive growth and protect the environment.”

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