Solar farms are being refused planning permission in Great Britain at the highest rate in five years, analysis has found, with projects which would have cut £100m off annual electricity bills turned down in the past 18 months.
The Guardian reports (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/25/solar-farm-plans-refused-highest-rate-five-years-great-britain that planning permission for 23 solar farms was refused in Great Britain between January 2021 and July 2022, which could have produced enough renewable energy to power an estimated 147,000 homes annually, according to analysis of government figures by the planning and development consultancy Turley.
The refusals have jumped significantly since the start of 2021. Researchers found only four projects were refused planning permission during 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 combined. They went on to find that of the 27 refused solar farms between 2019 and 2022, 19 are in Conservative constituencies. Four were in Labour constituencies, three in Scottish National party constituencies, and one in a Liberal Democrat constituency. South-west and eastern England had the highest number of refusals in the last 18 months, with four projects turned down in each region.
There is also some growing concern about whether this trend will continue as both contenders for the Conservative Party leadership have made negative comments about solar farms.
Analysts at the think tank Green Alliance (an independent think tank and charity focused on ambitious leadership for the environment see: https://green-alliance.org.uk/) said the rejected projects were large solar farms at an average of about 30MW each (MW – a unit of power equal to one million watts) which may account for the planning refusals as it is easier to get smaller farms approved. However, it added that this should not be a reason to refuse planning permission, as larger solar farms could cut bills further.
Dustin Benton, the policy director at Green Alliance, said: “We should be building as much cheap, clean energy as we can to reduce people’s energy bills and cut our reliance on Russian gas. This additional solar power generation, if it displaced gas, would have saved over £100m per year in wholesale energy costs.”
“By integrating solar panels into fields, even farmers on high-grade land can continue to grow crops at the same time as enjoying the steady income from solar panels.”
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