State subsidies for solar farms are to be cut, in a move the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs claims will save up to £2m of taxpayers’ money.
The change, which will come into effect from January, will mean that farmers who choose to use fields for solar panels will not be eligible for any farm subsidy payments available through the Common Agricultural Policy for that land.
Environment secretary Liz Truss said she was scrapping farming subsidies for solar fields because “it makes my heart sink to see row upon row of solar panels where once there was a field of wheat or grassland for livestock to graze”.
She said: “Solar panels are best placed on the 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial rooftops where they will not compromise the success of our agricultural industry. English farmland is some of the best in the world and I want to see it dedicated to growing quality food and crops. I do not want to see its productive potential wasted and its appearance blighted by solar farms.”
This is the latest in a series of reforms that aim to curb support for solar farms in agricultural fields. The Department for Energy and Climate Change recently announced that renewable energy subsidies for new large-scale solar farms will end next April. It is a turnaround from previous plans to rapidly increase the number of fields dedicated to solar farms in the UK, with the aim of establishing 1,000 ground-based solar farms by the end of the decade.