Businesses will be able to use more of their rooftops to generate solar power in a bid to reduce the technology’s presence in the countryside, the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary has said.
Claire Coutinho, speaking on the main stage at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, also announced an additional £80m to fund insulation for social homes.
She said: “We are… working to reduce pressure on rural communities by making it easier for solar panels to be installed on industrial rooftops, warehouses, car parks and factories.
“We’ll cut through the planning red tape that limits the amount of solar businesses can currently install, protecting the countryside, boosting renewables and, according to industry, saving businesses up to £3 billion a year.”
Conservative former minister Chris Skidmore’s government-commissioned review of net zero, published in January this year, called for a “rooftop revolution” by reducing constraints on installing new solar panels on residential and commercial buildings.
Coutinho, addressing social housing, also told the conference: “Today I can announce we’re allocating a further £80m to insulate thousands of social homes, saving families on average £240 each year, supporting the most vulnerable, reducing their bills, protecting our environment.”
She also said six companies have been shortlisted to build small modular reactors in the UK, with the final decision to be announced in spring next year.
Coutinho insisted her party is making progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also warned against the dangers of losing the public’s support or implementing policies which will not achieve the intended aim.
“If we are to succeed, net zero can’t be something that is done to people by a privileged elite,” she said.
“We cannot force people to make the wrong decisions for their families. And it’s immoral to put forward policies that will impoverish people here when emissions are rising abroad.”
Press Associaiton – Ben Hatton