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UK Government proposals would block growth in solar energy 

Solar Energy UK responds to government proposals on solar farms

Solar Energy UK
Immediate release
10 October 2022 

Britain’s solar industry completely opposes plans apparently being discussed within Government that would severely restrict the development of solar farms in England. 

Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena is reportedly considering extending the definition of ‘Best and Most Versatile’ land to Grade 3b under the Agricultural Land Classification scheme.[1] This would have the effect of tilting the planning system against one of the very cheapest and greenest sources of energy available. 
 
The move is in response to false and baseless claim that solar farms threaten the UK’s food security.[2] 

Solar farms defend global and UK food supply because they address climate change, which is the single biggest threat to UK food security, according to Jayawardena’s own department Defra. 

 
Solar farms also keep farmers in business, providing them with a stable source of income in uncertain economic times, caused in the first place by the UK’s continued reliance on fossil fuels.[3] This is also the primary reason consumers around the country are facing a cost-of-living crisis. 
 
The construction of new solar farms directly reduces the cost of electricity by displacing colossally expensive natural gas. More than 2.2GW of solar capacity was procured in the latest round of the Contracts for Difference scheme, the government’s auction system for energy, at some of the cheapest prices yet.[4] 

The rapid growth of the solar industry overall means it could supply 17% of the UK’s annual electricity needs by 2035, supporting 60,000 jobs.[5] 
 
Government, industry and third sector polling has repeatedly demonstrated that the solar industry and solar farms are wildly popular among the public, across all age, political, and geographical demographics. 
 
Even if five times as many solar farms were built, they would occupy less than 0.3% of UK land – less than half the amount occupied by golf courses.  
 
Nearly 20 environmental and other groups also recently co-signed a letter by Solar Energy UK to the PM, Liz Truss, outlining these concerns.[6]  

 
Solar Energy UK CEO 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.” 

[1] Ministers hope to ban solar projects from most English farms 

[2] Briefing: Solar Farms and Food Security: The Facts 

[3] Leading farming union defends solar panels from Tory attacks 

[4] Analysis: Record-low price for UK offshore wind is nine times cheaper than gas 

[5] Solar Energy UK analysis based on National Grid figures. 

[6] Solar Energy UK joint letter on land use 
 

– ENDS​ – 

Editors’ notes: 
For further information or to request an interview, please contact: 
 Name: Gareth Simkins | Email: [email protected]