Protect Prime Farmland from Solar Industrialisation

Protect Prime Farmland from Solar Industrialisation

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Over the past few years there have been a soaring number of planning applications across the UK to build very large “Solar Energy Farms” covering thousands of acres of agricultural land, with some even in the Green Belt. Such projects involve taking over productive food-growing fields with hundreds of thousands of tall solar panels in order to generate “green” electricity for periods typically up to 40 years.

During this period the farms are unable to grow any food crops or raise animals. Only a few exceptions graze sheep, though this is going out of fashion with the developers. The developers usually offer to “improve the local biodiversity” or similar “green” sounding platitudes but there are no guarantees that the existing wildlife will not be permanently impacted.

Solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels produce electricity from sunlight, but are very inefficient in producing energy compared to their land greed. Offshore wind power and hydroelectric systems, along with nuclear generation are significantly more efficient for their land footprint and have been chosen by the Government as the primary large-scale routes for energy investment towards our net zero goals. Nevertheless, solar developers are keen to cash in on the publicity of the net zero targets whilst they still can, removing valuable food producing land in the process.

Solar panels on individual homes, offices, public buildings, and over car parks can and do contribute to offsetting electricity used in those buildings. The BRE announced in 2016 that there were around half a million acres of rooftops facing in the right direction for solar panels. But scaling up such systems by installing hundreds of thousands of panels to put electricity into the National Grid is hugely inefficient as such panels typically only generate 12% of their maximum capacity in the UK climate. If the same area of land was used to build homes, but only 12% of the homes were ever used there would be outrage. Further, energy sent over the transmission network is lost the further it travels, contributing to energy waste. Like a bucket of water with a small hole in the bottom. But this is reduced to almost no loss when installed on a rooftop and used by the building.

These industrial solar energy plants, if needed at all, should be located on previously developed “brown field” sites and rooftops, not on valuable agricultural land. And certainly not adjacent to communities and in Green Belt areas, where they will destroy the public amenity and visual openness of the local countryside.

Over the coming decades as we face up to the challenges of Climate Change, which is predicted to reduce food yields across the globe, we need to be able to produce enough food for ourselves. We currently import more than 40% of our food, and recent threats by countries to ban exports of vaccinations have highlighted the threat that similar bans could be imposed on food if countries are themselves short of supplies in the future. Further it is predicted that we will need to produce 56% more food by 2050 due to increasing populations. This is less than 30 years away. We have not increased food production by 56% in the last 30 years, and if we continue to build on farmland we have no hope of achieving it in the next 30 years either. Our human population will soon exceed 70 million plus some 30 million pets (mainly dogs and cats) plus millions of farm animals. We need to be able to feed all of them sustainably and covering viable agricultural land with solar “farms” is NOT the way to achieve this.

It is time to call on the UK Government to end the development of large-scale Solar Energy “Farms” on prime agricultural land (Grades 1, 2, & 3) and take other measures to realise the benefits of solar pv such as making it mandatory for a minimum of 50% of all new builds to include rooftop solar power. Please sign the petition now.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!