Planning Refusals for Solar Farms Raise Concerns Over Clean Energy Expansion
Planning and development consultancy, Turley, has conducted an analysis revealing that 23 solar farm projects were refused planning permission across England, Wales, and Scotland between January 2021 and July 2022. These projects had the potential to save £100 million in annual electricity bills and generate enough renewable energy to power 147,000 homes each year. The research also highlights a significant increase in refusals since the beginning of 2021, with only four projects being denied planning permission from 2017 to 2020 combined.
Size and Tory Leadership Contenders’ Comments:
Experts from the think tank Green Alliance have emphasized that the rejected projects were large solar farms, approximately 30MW each. This scale of development may have contributed to the refusals, as smaller solar farms tend to face fewer obstacles when seeking planning approval. Recent comments from Tory leadership contenders have raised concerns of further refusals, exacerbating the situation.
Advocating for Cheap and Clean Energy:
Green Alliance’s policy director, Dustin Benton, emphasizes the importance of expanding cheap and clean energy sources to reduce energy costs and decrease dependence on Russian gas. The additional solar power generation, if displacing gas, could have saved over £100 million annually in wholesale energy expenses. Benton suggests integrating solar panels into fields, enabling farmers to continue crop cultivation while benefitting from the steady income generated by solar panels.
The increasing number of planning refusals for large-scale solar farm projects raises concerns about the expansion of clean energy in the UK. While the comments from Tory leadership contenders have sparked fears of further rejections, it is important to note that smaller solar farms are more likely to gain approval. The integration of solar panels into fields presents an opportunity for farmers to maintain agricultural productivity while enjoying the economic benefits of solar energy. It is crucial to strike a balance between renewable energy expansion and efficient land use to maximize the advantages of clean energy and mitigate environmental impacts.