Rural campaigners organising rally in protest at 'mega' solar plants

New petition urges Government to save land for food production and nature protection

clock • 3 min read
Industrial-sized solar plants should not be allowed on productive farmland say campaigners
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Industrial-sized solar plants should not be allowed on productive farmland say campaigners

Campaigners are staging a rally in Westminster this week in order to protect food production and nature from industrial-size solar farms.

The UK Solar Alliance (UKSA) has launched the action to combat the growing number of 50MW+ solar parks and to put pressure on the Government to issue a clear directive as to just which type of land can be given over to large solar plants.

Members or farming and rural communities are being urged to head to central London for the event, which is taking place in Parliament Square on Thursday April 18 from 11am.

The rally has been timed to coincide with a Westminster Hall Debate tabled by Dr Caroline Johnson, Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Event organiser and vice-chair of the UKSA Karen Squibb-Williams said: "We are not a political group in any way, but there are major events regarding solar in Parliament this week, so it felt like the right time.

"We have 20 questions to ask Government as there is not enough being done to check who is behind the solar schemes, as far as we can see it at the moment it is just PR noise - there is no management, no research, no data management.

"It is all very well saying, 'We are only taking a small piece of land...' But what if that piece of land is the only one in which we grow the majority of one particular crop. No one is looking at this."

Read more: Frustration for family over solar farm appeal

Various groups currently battling large solar developments have taken to social media in order to drum-up support for the event.

Stop Lime Down Solar, which is fighting to protect nearly three square miles of productive farmland and natural open fields in North Wiltshire - the equivalent of 1,250 football pitches - stated the time ‘was right' for people to come together.

The post read: "We feel the time is right to nationally come together to put pressure on the Government to review and address many unanswered questions.

"While the notice for this rally is short, the opportunity is right as the day ties in with three other activities happening in Parliament this week. Please get together with others in your community and meet us there."

UKSA is also urging people to sign the now 12,000-strong petition which is calling on Defra to introduce ‘new restrictions on solar facilities to protect land and food security'. It has three main aims, namely: to prohibit 'mega solar facilities' over 50MW on UK farmland; establish solar development preference hierarchies and regional density caps to help protect our natural landscapes, ensure food security, and conserve biodiversity.

In a recent EFRA Select Committee meeting, Defra Secretary Steve Barclay said issues such as solar and wind farms and where they sat alongside food production and nature protection was something he was monitoring.

He said he believed there needed to be closer cooperation between government departments.

However, he admitted: "Personally I am very sceptical as to why we are putting solar on Grade 1 Grade 2 land."

 

 

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