Farmers miss out on up to £1bn from solar

1st December 2022

Eight out of 10 farms in England do not have solar panels and are missing out on financial benefits of up to £1bn over two years because they are relying on highly expensive gas and not generating lucrative revenue streams.

The claim, made by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), comes as the government considers extending a solar ban to agricultural land designated 3b under the planning system. This would mean that agricultural land of grades 1 to 3 – 41% of land in England – will be covered by a planning presumption against solar.

The government’s April-June 2022 Quarterly Energy Prices statistical release shows that farming and other businesses paid 98% more for gas in the second quarter of 2022 than in the same period of 2021.

The ECIU has unveiled a survey showing that 60% of people would “think less” of their MP if they campaigned against the development of a local solar farm. However, separate YouGov polling has found that just 32% of MPs think more of their constituents would support than oppose a new solar farm in the area. A total of 37% of Conservative MPs believe opposition would be higher than support, but 49% of Labour MPs think that most constituents would support a solar farm. The ECIU also points to another YouGov poll which found that 80% of people would support a solar farm development in their area.

“Farmers are being hit by a double whammy of rising energy costs due to the surge in the gas price and record prices for synthetic fertilisers, which are made using gas,” said ECIU climate and land programme lead Matt Williams. “On top of that, many are losing income as crops fail due to extreme weather driven by climate change. Some are choosing to leave the industry altogether as a result.

"MPs campaigning against solar farms might want to check that they are really reflecting the views of their constituents and not alienating them.”

Image credit | Shutterstock


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