No more solar panels built on UK’s farmlands?

UK solar energy sector is under threat from Truss’s plan to ban solar panels on farmlands.

Ranil Jayawardena, the UK’s environment secretary, has asked officials to extend the definition of “best and most versatile” land (BMV) to include the agricultural land that most solar farms are built on. Farm land is classified based on soil quality, climate and topography using a system ranking from 1 to 5. Under Jayawardena’s plan, BMV — currently made up of category 1 to 3a — would be extended to include grade 3b. Planning guidance aims to protect all land designated as BMV from development.

The most of UK’s solar farms are built on 3b, which is defined as of “moderate quality agricultural land” and is therefore less productive for farmers but still adequate for solar panel installations.

Solar energy currently acounts for around 4% of UK’s electricity. UK solar energy developers have already warned the public that Truss’s plan would ban construction of solar panels to 58% of agricultural land and 41% of UK’s land mass.

Currently, most solar farms are built on and planned for 3b land, so this plan would dramatically hinder the further solar energy development in the UK.

Ed Miliband, shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, said: “If the government goes ahead with blocking solar energy, it will be yet more unilateral energy disarmament from a government that has a 12 year record of driving up bills by blocking clean power.

The blame for this plan lies squarely with the prime minister who has repeatedly opposed solar energy, the cheapest, cleanest, quickest form of power–and it will be the British people who pay the price in higher bills, higher gas imports and energy insecurity.”