UK Solar Industry Safeguards Food Security

Solar Energy UK has assured that the photovoltaic (PV) industry poses no threat to food security, following a written Ministerial Statement by Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho reiterating government policy.

Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK, emphasized, “Solar farms occupy a tiny fraction of the country, and this will remain true even in 2035, when we aim to quadruple our current solar capacity. They pose no threat to food security; in fact, they combat the primary threat—climate change, as identified by Defra. Without solar farms, many traditional farming businesses would have collapsed due to the lack of reliable income.”

Coutinho’s statement clarified that “applicants should, where possible, utilize suitable previously developed land, brownfield land, contaminated land, and industrial land.” This came amidst media reports suggesting a crackdown on solar projects. However, the REA pointed out that Coutinho’s comments did not introduce any significant policy changes.

Coutinho added, “For necessary use of agricultural land, poorer quality land should be preferred over higher quality land, avoiding ‘Best and Most Versatile’ agricultural land where possible.” The government also plans to support independent certification of soil quality assessments to avoid disputes over planning guidelines.

Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the REA, stressed the importance of solar energy in achieving Net Zero. “We need all available tools and technologies to reach Net Zero. Solar is highly popular with the public and the existing planning guidance already protects productive land. Restricting solar development would jeopardize jobs, investment, and the UK’s ability to meet its 2035 net zero power system goal, leaving us reliant on costly fossil fuels.”

The REA called on the Government to publish their Solar Roadmap promptly, outlining the path to achieving the essential 70GW solar PV deployment target.

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Credit: [Image: UK Government]

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