The UK’s Junior Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, recently came out with the rather blunt statement that solar farms “are not particularly welcome in the UK,” according to recent reports.
The comments follow pretty closely on the heels of recent comments made by the UK’s Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, that she didn’t want English farmland potentially wasted (on solar farms) and “its appearance blighted by solar farms.”
The reason for Rudd’s comments that solar farms aren’t particularly welcome in the UK are at least partly attributable to the minister’s preference that new solar capacity be via rooftop solar installations. As evidenced in her comments: “Solar farms are not particularly welcome because we believe that solar should be on the roofs of buildings and homes, not in the beautiful green countryside. We are proud to stand on that record.”
Not a new preference, but the first time it’s been stated so bluntly publicly from a politician as far as I’ve seen.
As far back as 2013, the UK government declared its preference for rooftop solar deployment over ground-mounted solar farms. Amongst the government’s recent actions to actualize this preference have been relatively recent changes to support programs for large-scale solar projects — only those under 5 MW in size will be eligible for the renewable obligation scheme soon.
Also, the UK government has previously promised to “put rocket boosters” behind the commercial rooftop sector — but concrete action in that regard has so far been sparse.
While there’s certainly a point to be made there with regard to the UK’s limited agricultural land, and the idea that perhaps it’s a bad idea to increase the UK’s dependency on agricultural imports, you would think that if the UK was interested in transitioning to a rooftop-focused solar industry that its concrete actions supporting that industry would be stronger and more plentiful.
In a way, the recent comments just sound like any of the other political stalling that seems to be so common these days.
Image: British flag via Shutterstock