Net Zero Watch has warned that current plans to dramatically expand industrial solar farms on farmland across across Britain is a serious threat to UK agriculture and food security.
Drawing on new data from the solar industry the campaign group has revealed that an astonishing 37,000 MW of land based solar PV capacity is in pre-planning and planning in the UK.
If built, this would take 150,000 acres of farmland – or 75,000 football pitches – out of production at a time when Britain has less farmland in use than at any time since 1945, and is losing such land to industrial and other uses at the rate of about 99,000 acres a year, increasing import dependency.
Solar energy should not be permitted to add to this serious problem.
However, due to weakness in the planning guidance, little or no protection is offered to ordinary grades of farmland, encouraging landowners to think they can easily secure the conversion of food producing fields into building land. The misrepresentation of land quality in the planning system is suspected.
Net Zero Watch has recommended an immediate and firm revision of the planning guidance to protect the national interest by changing the presumption in favour to a presumption against solar development on any land, leaving the developer to prove their case on its own merits.
Dr John Constable, Net Zero Watch’s Director of Energy, said:
Farmland is already a renewable energy producer, making food from sunlight. Sacrificing that national asset to produce low quality electrical energy from Solar Photovoltaic panels is foolish in itself and will have deep and troubling long-term implications for British food security.”