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Questions raised about the best way to prioritise the growth of solar projects

Energy security and food security are two key issues facing this country and must be tackled together, with the countryside playing its part to deliver sustainable environmental and economic growth.

We recognise the importance of encouraging and supporting the growth of renewable energy projects; the UK needs a mix of sustainable energy to tackle the impact other energy sources have had on the environment.

Solar energy is an important part of the UK’s sustainable energy mix and we must prioritise the growth of solar projects on brownfield sites, roofs and new-builds which should reduce the pressure for solar farms on productive agricultural land.

While it is regularly argued that sheep can be grazed around solar panels there are questions about whether that grazing will still be viable in three or four years’ time. There are also questions about whether the land used for solar farms will ever return to agriculture.

The Countryside Alliance was represented at a House of Commons roundtable event on UK food security in November, hosted by the APPG for Farming. We argued that while solar farms can be profitable for landowners the deployment of large-scale solar farming projects has broader implications beyond the ability of single farms to generate revenue. There are impacts on tenant farmers threatened with eviction and further pressure on land values, which makes it harder for new entrants to join the sector and begin farming.


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