'Solar farms should not override current use of land' - Wrekin MP

Solar farms 'should not override' other uses of land, according to Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard.

Solar farm
Solar farm

Mr Pritchard took part in a debate on solar farms and battery storage at Westminster Hall on Wednesday. Debates at Westminster Hall allow MPs to air all kinds of issues without changing policy.

The MP says he agrees that solar farms and sustainable energy are needed to diversify our energy sources.

But he called for other land uses, such as agricultural land, nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest, not to be automatically overridden. He said this "often happens with solar farms".

"I therefore agree that any review of the planning guidance needs to ensure that those other factors are fully taken into account, rather than being overridden by solar farms on their own," he said.

The debate was led by Mr Pritchard's Tory colleague and North Wiltshire MP James Gray, who disagreed with a minister who said "it is not our intention to push for dramatically more farmland to be used for solar".

Mr Gray said: "The reason why all these members are in the chamber today is because solar farm applications are being made in their constituencies. We do not want them to happen; we want them to stop.

"We want the land to remain agricultural land that can produce food. Just saying, 'Oh, don’t worry, ladies and gentlemen, it will be absolutely fine. It is going to remain as it is now,' is no reassurance at all.

"We want the situation to change. We want to see fewer solar farms on agricultural land, not more or even the same number."

Mr Gray added: "I am horrified to hear the Government intend to increase the number of solar farms by 500 per cent and that the minister thinks that a ratio of 50:50 between fields and roofs, which is where we are at the moment, is reassuring. We want to see far, far fewer solar farms in the countryside."

The Westminster Hall sitting was adjourned without the question put.

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