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UK warns against solar farms on farmland

The government is cautioning local authorities against approving solar farms on high-quality farmland unless deemed necessary, citing concerns over food security and energy needs

The government has issued a warning to local authorities today, urging them to refrain from granting planning permission for solar farms on high-quality farmland unless it’s deemed essential.

The move comes as part of efforts to balance food security with the need for renewable energy sources.

A written ministerial statement will be presented to the Parliament, clarifying the criteria for approving solar farm construction and emphasising the importance of considering the cumulative impact of such developments.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho highlighted the government’s commitment to safeguarding food security while meeting the nation’s energy demands amidst global threats.

Meanwhile, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) has responded, underlining existing planning guidelines that already address concerns over the use of agricultural land for solar farms.

The REA emphasised the importance of solar energy in achieving net zero targets and called on the government to publish a Solar Roadmap outlining strategies for meeting ambitious solar deployment targets.

Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive Officer of the REA, said: “Restricting further solar development would pose a serious threat to the jobs and investment created by the solar industry and the large solar farm sector that is being built now largely without public billpayers’ support.

“It would undermine the government’s ability to meet a net zero power system by 2035 and keep us locked in to expensive fossil fuels at a huge cost to households and businesses.

“Therefore we call on the government to publish their Solar Roadmap following the work of the solar taskforce as soon as possible, to outline how else we can meet their stretching but essential 70GW solar PV deployment target.”

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