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Solar farms pose ‘no threat to food security’

food security

UK parliamentary statements on solar energy, confirming that current land use policies will continue to provide stability as the sector expands.

The only notable change announced by Claire Coutinho, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, involved concerns over the accuracy of soil quality grading.[1] The Government plans to support independent certification of assessments by developers to resolve disputes over areas subject to planning guidelines on higher-quality agricultural land.

Both Coutinho and the Prime Minister’s comments on food security seem to address a small minority of anti-solar Conservative backbenchers rather than local council decision-makers.

The solar industry will maintain established principles and eagerly anticipates the government-industry Solar Roadmap publication, expected in the coming weeks, which will guide the addition of over 50GW of solar capacity over the next decade.

“Solar farms occupy a minuscule fraction of the country, which will remain true even in 2035 when the Government expects a fourfold increase in solar generation capacity.[2,3] They pose no threat to food security; they never have and never will.

“According to Defra, the primary threat to food security is climate change, which solar farms combat.[4] Moreover, without solar farms, many traditional farming businesses would have struggled to produce food without the reliable income solar farms provide,” he added.

A significant aspect of the new Food Security Index is energy cost.[5] Government data shows that solar farms are the cheapest electricity source, further contributing to food security, decarbonisation, and the national interest.[6]

Solar farms often allow for multiple uses of land, such as continuing agricultural activities like sheep grazing. They also offer substantial benefits to nature by addressing climate change and energy security through cleaner, cheaper, homegrown energy generation, while restoring natural habitats on the same land.[7]

Solar farms are evidently popular according to both government and independent surveys.[8,9] Another survey by Climate Barometer shows that the public and MPs vastly overestimate opposition to their development.[10]

Reference Links

[1] Solar and protecting our Food Security and Best and Most Versatile (BMV) Land

[2] British Energy Security Strategy

[3] Factcheck: Is solar power a ‘threat’ to UK farmland?

[4] United Kingdom Food Security Report 2021

[5] Food Security Index 2024

[6] Large-scale solar provides cheapest power, says Government report

[7] Wildlife found thriving on solar farms

[8] Solar farms more popular than ever but myths threaten ability to tackle climate and ecological disaster

[9] DESNZ Public Attitudes Tracker

[10] Climate Barometer Tracker 22nd November 2023: The public and MPs overestimate opposition to local solar


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