British farmers eye replacement for crops – Guardian
Landowners in the UK are urging whoever comes to power after Liz Truss’s departure this week to scrap the outgoing prime minister’s plans to ban solar farms on agricultural land, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
A landowners’ association told the newspaper that having solar panels on less productive land allowed them to subsidise food production during bad years, and provided cheap power for the farms and local areas.
Truss, who resigned on Thursday, and her environment secretary, reportedly planned to ban solar panels on most of England’s agricultural land by reclassifying less productive farmland as “best and most valuable”, citing food security. The plans left landowners “dismayed and surprised”, according to the farming news website Farminguk.
“For us it is a source of constant income. We make unequivocally more from our solar panels than from farming.” the Guardian quoted Kent farmer Harry Teacher as saying.
The British agriculture industry has been hit hard by the energy crisis. In August, Farmers Weekly magazine reported that farmers who needed to renew their energy contracts this autumn were facing cost increases of up to 400%. One farm in the UK faces a $17 million annual bill for natural gas needed to heat its greenhouses, according to The Insider magazine.
In September Liz Truss’s government announced a six-month support package to help UK businesses, including farms and rural enterprises, pay for gas and electricity.
Farming unions criticized the plan, however, saying it would do little to help them make the necessary long-term plans.
According to Farmers Weekly, the agriculture sector wants the government to help farms invest in renewable energy so that they can generate their own electricity from renewable sources.
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