Ministers plan to ban solar farms from most farmland in England, the Guardian has revealed.
The new environment minister Ranil Jayawardinait is understood that he opposes placing solar panels on farmland, arguing that it hinders his growth program and boosts food production.
To this end, government sources say, he has asked his officials to redefine the “Best and Most Diverse Lands” (BMV), destined for agriculture, to include the medium to low 3B category. The land is rated 1 through 5, and the BMV currently includes grades 1 through 3a. Planning Guidelines state that development on BMV land should be avoided, although planning authorities may take other considerations into account.
Currently, most solar farms are built on 3 billion land and planned, so this move will spoil most of the new developments of the renewable energy source.
Expanding the BMV to Class 3b would ban the use of solar energy from about 41% of England’s land area, or about 58% of farmland. Much of the fourth and fifth tiers of land lie in highland regions unsuitable for solar developments.
During her speech at the Conservative Party conference last week, the Prime Minister said, Les Truss, from a list of “enemies,” including environmentalists, who make up what she called an “anti-growth coalition.” However, green environmental activists say that blocking the construction of renewable energy sources will make her government part of this group.
Chris Hewitt, chief executive of the UK Solar Trade Association, said: “The UK solar sector is concerned about attempts to put major planning rules in the way of cheap domestic energy. solar energy It is the answer to many needs and policy requirements: it will lower energy bills, provide energy security, boost growth and help rural economies. Ranil Jayawardena’s opposition to solar farms should definitely make him part of the anti-growth coalition.”
To get this policy on line, Defra will have to get approval from the Department of Business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) and settlement management, housing and communities.
Understandably, BEIS ministers are against this move, as they are trying to show that they are not only liberalizing the oil, gas and fracking industry, but also renewable energy.
However, No 10 is understood to be sympathetic to the idea, as Truss has pledged to shut down solar farms on farmland during her election campaign.
“It would be strange to redefine ‘best and most diverse’ farmland to include soils that are not of high quality, only to shut down solar farms,” said Dustin Benton, director of policy at think tank Green Alliance. “It appears to be a tactic the Anti-Growth Coalition might use.”
“The UK urgently needs to expand into renewables so we don’t have to pay the exorbitant cost of gas. Solar is one of the fastest energy sources to be deployed, so we must move quickly to build more in light of the gas crisis.”
“Government cannot on one side declare war on the ‘anti-growth coalition’, while on the other veto developments, or waste time and money with excessive regulation,” said Andy Meyer, chief operating officer at the Institute of Economic Affairs.
“Green farmers and entrepreneurs are eager to provide solutions to the false claim that energy and food security cannot coexist. The City of London is ready to fund it. Long-term solutions to grid and storage congestion are possible. Market reform can provide a level playing field. Communities can benefit through more From personal bonuses from allowed development.
“This is what a supply-side revolution looks like to encourage growth while supporting the transition to a cleaner, greener future. Not strict rules, plans, and goals that confuse, conflict, and encourage opposition to change.”
Ed Miliband, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Net Zero, said: “If the government goes ahead with banning solar power, it will be more unilateral disarmament than a government with a 12-year track record of raising the bills by preventing clean energy.
The blame for this scheme falls squarely on the prime minister who has repeatedly opposed solar, the cheapest, cleanest and fastest form of energy – and it will be the British people who will pay the price for the high bills, rising gas imports and energy insecurity. “
Environment Department food The Ministry of Rural Affairs and Rural Affairs declined to deny that a change was on the table, simply saying the government was looking at options to support agriculture and economic growth while protecting nature and offering net zero.