• Existing planning guidance already ensures that best quality farmland is not built on. 
  • Restricting further development would pose a serious threat to the jobs and investment created by the solar industry. 
  • All future planned solar projects to take up less land than the UK’s golf courses. 
  • Unclear what this new intervention will achieve and why it’s being proposed. 

In response to media reports and a Written Ministerial Statement today on Government guidance on planning for solar farms, the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology) has replied emphasising that planning guidance already ensures that the highest quality agricultural land is not built on, takes into account cumulative development concerns, and that the solar industry works closely with the Agricultural sector and complements farmers both in terms of diversity of revenue and agrivoltaics.  

The planning system for solar farms was reformed only 6 months ago and clarified that solar farms should not be approved on the highest-grade agricultural land. The need for this additional intervention appears unclear.   

Regarding food security concerns, solar energy would only take up a tiny fraction of all the UK’s agricultural land (using less land than all the UK’s golf courses, as of Summer 2022) if all projects planned were to go ahead, and helps to address climate change, which is the single biggest threat to UK food security. According to DEFRA statistics, climate change could reduce the UK’s stock of high-grade agricultural land by nearly three-quarters by 2050 if left unchecked.  

Read the REA 2024 Manifesto.   

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, CEO of the REA (Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology), said: 

“We need all the tools and technologies available to us to reach Net Zero and we know that solar remains a highly popular technology with the general public. While we understand that land use must be planned carefully and do not want to see the loss of productive land, the existing planning guidance already ensures this, by banning solar farms on the best quality farmland and considering ‘cumulative development’ concerns. 

Restricting further solar development would pose a serious threat to the jobs and investment created by the solar industry and the large solar farm sector that is being built now largely without public billpayers’ support. It would undermine the Government’s ability to meet a net zero power system by 2035 and keep us locked in to expensive fossil fuels at a huge cost to households and businesses. Therefore we call on Government to publish their Solar Roadmap following the work of the solar taskforce as soon as possible, to outline how else we can meet their stretching but essential 70GW solar PV deployment target.”