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Farmers solar farm subsidies to be cut

28 October 2014

DEFRA has just announced plans that will see farmers lose their right to claim agricultural subsidies for fields filled with solar panels.

According to DEFRA, this will help the countryside from being blighted by solar farms and will instead see more land used for grazing and growing crops.

This change, which comes into effect from January 2015, means farmers will have to choose whether to use their fields for solar panels or claim farm subsidy payments through the Common Agricultural Policy.

The move has been championed by Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss who said: “I am committed to food production in this country and 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. That is why I am scrapping farming subsidies for solar fields. 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”.

As well as saving the tax payer £2m in subsidies, the change is also expected to slow the growth of solar farms in the English countryside. There are currently 215 installed with the largest covering as much as 100 hectares.  Previously, the number of fields to be dedicated to solar power was set to increase to over 1,000 hectares of ground-based solar farms by the end of the decade.  These changes are seen as a way to halt this expansion as it will now become less financially attractive for farmers to invest in solar panels.

DEFRA insists the decision is part of a drive to ensure that the new Common Agricultural Policy delivers maximum benefits for the food and farming industry and provides greater benefits to rural communities, the environment and wildlife.

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Adam Hale BA (Hons), TEP, FALA
Senior associate, solicitor
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