Calls for rethink on solar farms built on high grade agricultural land
PUBLISHED: 08:51 07 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:34 07 April 2014
Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for South East Cambridgeshire has raised concerns about the rapid rise of solar farms being build on prime Fen farmland.
Huw Jones said that the recent surge in planning applications for solar farms was taking much-needed agricultural land out of production and would be better suited to less productive “marginal” land.
Mr Jones was speaking in light of a report from the International Panel on Climate Change which warned that crop yields will decline across the world as temperatures increase and weather becomes more unpredictable.
The report said that the issue will become worse when word population increases to nine billion by 2050.
Mr Jones said a decision needed to be taken, particularly in light of recent planning approvals for 1,000 solar panels at Frog’s Abbey, in Coveney, and a large extension to a 100-acre solar farm in Wilburton, which has taken a large amount of farmland out of production.
Mr Jones said: “Within Cambridgeshire we face a dilemma. A large solar farm is under construction in Wilburton and proposals for a smaller scheme have been accepted for Coveney.
“These alternatives to carbon based power generation will make a contribution to mitigating climate change but they also take areas of high grade agricultural land out of food production.
“High grade agricultural land is a scarce resource. The planning guidance on solar farms takes no account of the quality of land. Surely we should prioritise solar farms on marginal land or, if we are to develop low carbon power, consider wind power that has a smaller physical footprint.
“We have to make progress on green energy but food security has to be considered at the same time”
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