England’s Green And Pleasant Land

Solar farm in Wroughton, England. Planning permission for 23 solar farms has been refused across England, Wales and Scotland between January 2021 and July 2022. Photograph: Chris Gorman/Getty Images

Nature gets disrupted even by the most sensitively planned green solutions. Here is a parallel story to yesterday’s, with solar replacing wind and England replacing Western USA, illustrating the challenges facing renewable energy:

Exclusive: Projects which would have cut annual electricity bills by £100m turned down

Solar farms are being refused planning permission in Great Britain at the highest rate in five years, analysis has found, with projects which would have cut £100m off annual electricity bills turned down in the past 18 months.

Planning permission for 23 solar farms was refused across England, Wales and Scotland between January 2021 and July 2022, which could have produced enough renewable energy to power an estimated 147,000 homes annually, according to analysis of government figures by the planning and development consultancy Turley.

The refusals have jumped significantly since the start of 2021 – the research found only four projects were refused planning permission during 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 combined.

Of the 27 declined solar farms between 2019 and 2022, 19 are in Conservative constituencies. Four were in Labour constituencies, three in Scottish National party constituencies, and one in a Liberal Democrat constituency.

There are fears such refusals could increase further as the Tory leadership contenders, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, have made disparaging comments about solar farms.

South-west and eastern England had the highest number of refusals in the last 18 months, with four projects turned down in each region. Wales, the West Midlands and Scotland each had three refusals, while the east Midlands, north-east and south-east of England each had two planning applications turned down.

Analysts at the thinktank Green Alliance said the rejected projects were large solar farms at an average of about 30MW each, which may account for the planning refusals as it is easier to get smaller farms approved.

However, it added that this should not be a reason to refuse planning permission, as larger solar farms could cut bills further.

It said the refused solar farms could have cut about £100m off Great Britain’s electricity bills this year.

Dustin Benton, the policy director at Green Alliance, said: “We should be building as much cheap, clean energy as we can to reduce people’s energy bills and cut our reliance on Russian gas. This additional solar power generation, if it displaced gas, would have saved over £100m per year in wholesale energy costs.”…

Read the whole article here.

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