Fields in England which are filled with solar panels, rather than crops or livestock, will cease to be eligible for CAP payments from January 2015, it has been announced by environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss (pictured).
“I am committed to food production in this country and it makes my heart sink to see row upon row of solar panels where once there was a field of wheat or grassland for livestock to graze,” she said. “That is why I am scrapping farming subsidies for solar fields.
“Solar panels are best placed on the 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial rooftops where they will not compromise the success of our agricultural industry.”
The move, which will save up to £2 million of support funding each year, follows other government measures designed to end support for solar farms in agricultural fields. This includes the recently announced ending of renewable energy subsidies for new large-scale solar farms from April 2015 and the amending of planning rules to “ensure that whenever possible solar installations are not put in fields that could be used for farming”.
“English farmland is some of the best in the world and I want to see it dedicated to growing quality food and crops,” said the environment secretary. “I do not want to see its productive potential wasted and its appearance blighted by solar farms.”