Liz Truss 'eyeing ban on solar panels on productive farmland'

Liz Truss ‘does not think solar panels should be installed on productive farmland’, says No10 amid claims PM is eyeing ban

  • Liz Truss doesn’t think solar panels should be on productive farmland, says No10
  • During Tory leadership contest, PM said fields shouldn’t be ‘full of solar panels’
  • Environment Secretary ‘planning to restrict the development of solar projects’

Liz Truss doesn’t think solar panels should be installed on productive farmland, Number 10 said today – amid claims the Prime Minister is eyeing a ban.

During this summer’s Tory leadership campaign, Ms Truss insisted farmers’ fields shouldn’t be ‘full of solar panels’.

It has now emerged that new Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena is planning to restrict the development of solar projects on farms in England.

According to the Guardian, the Cabinet minister has asked officials to redefine land categories in a move that could curb the development of new solar projects.

The newspaper said Mr Jayawardena opposes solar panels being placed on agricultural land as it impedes the boosting of food production.

During this summer’s Tory leadership campaign, Liz Truss insisted farmers’ fields shouldn’t be ‘full of solar panels’.

It has now emerged that new Environment Secretary Ranil Jayawardena is planning to restrict the development of solar projects on farms in England

Industry figures claimed Mr Jayawardena risked becoming part of the ‘anti-growth coalition’ that the PM attacked as ‘enemies of enterprise’ in her Tory conference speech

Asked about the report today, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman pointed to Ms Truss’s past comments on the issue. 

‘She said she doesn’t think we should be putting panels on productive agricultural lands,’ the spokesman said.

‘Because obviously as well as the energy security issue, we face a food security issue. So we need to strike the right balance.’

Pressed on whether farmers or the Government should decide how to use farmland, the PM’s spokesman said: ‘Of course it is right that farmers who own farms decide how best to use it, and I think she was clear about that during the campaign.’

When asked how the tightening of planning rules fits in with Ms Truss’s pro-growth agenda, he added: ‘I think it’s important to wait for the detail rather than get into speculation.’

Chris Hewett, the chief executive of the trade association Solar Energy UK, claimed Mr Jayawardena risked becoming part of the ‘anti-growth coalition’ that Ms Truss attacked as ‘enemies of enterprise’ in her Tory conference speech.

‘The UK solar sector is alarmed by attempts to put major planning rules in the way of cheap, homegrown energy,’ he said.

‘Solar power is the answer to so many needs and policy demands: it will cut energy bills, deliver energy security, boost growth and help rural economies.

‘Ranil Jayawardena’s opposition to solar farms must surely make him part of the anti-growth coalition.’

Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate change secretary, claimed British households would be left facing even higher energy bills.

He said: ‘If the Government goes ahead with blocking solar energy, it will be yet more unilateral energy disarmament from a Government that has a 12-year record of driving up bills by blocking clean power.

‘The blame for this plan lies squarely with the PM who has repeatedly opposed solar energy, the cheapest, cleanest, quickest form of power – and it will be the British people who pay the price in higher bills, higher gas imports and energy insecurity.’

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