Truss attack on solar farms ‘misguided’, says CLA

The CLA, which represents landowners, farms and rural businesses, has said comments made by Environment Secretary Liz Truss about solar farms are “misguided”.

The organisation agreed with the Minister on removing farming subsidies for land under solar panels, but said her wider views on solar farms were misguided.

CLA President Henry Robinson said: “Ms Truss’s comments about solar panels taking land out of food production are misguided and show a clear lack of understanding. Land in the UK has always been used for more than just food production and must continue to be so. The UK must make better use of unused roof space for solar power but this should not be to the exclusion of ground-mounted systems.

“There is no question that the best and most versatile land should be retained for food production wherever possible, and this is safeguarded by both the agricultural and solar industry.”

Mr Robinson said the vital point overlooked by the Environment Secretary is that agricultural activity can continue alongside and underneath solar panels to produce double output of both food and energy, essential in today’s increasing world.

He said: “Solar panels are installations which could be easily removed in 20-25 years time returning the land to its original use. Solar farms can provide a means for farmers to take land out of agricultural production for a number of years and economically return it to full agricultural production again in the future.”

The CLA President urged the Government to recognise that farmers and landowners need to diversify their businesses, respond to market forces and identify new forms of income which can provide economic and environmental sustainability.

He added: “We welcome Defra’s confirmation that areas of a field that do not have panels will still be eligible for the Basic Payments Scheme. This is especially important in ensuring that landowners who only have a few land-based panels are not unfairly penalised. The CLA now calls on the RPA and Defra to ensure that the implementation and mapping process is made as simple as possible and is not an administrative burden.”

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