Government also wants to encourage people with rooftop panels to install batteries
Government confirms anyone who adds solar from April 2019 will not be paid for excess electricity exported to grid
Householders who lease their roofs to power firms find it hard or costly to move home
An energy company is seeking approval for a huge 40,000 panel, solar park on farmland in Scotland.
Farm rooftop solar installations could be hit by a six-to-eight-fold hike in business rates from next April if government plans go ahead.
Most at risk are projects where the installation is primarily to provide power consumed on site.
Renewable energy interests are lobbying to get this reduced, although some farm schemes may be eligible for an exemption as they are on agricultural buildings, which are not subject to business rates, said Nick Wood of the Solar Trade Association (STA).
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has dismissed appeals for alternative solar power farms earmarked for a site in Cambridgeshire. The proposals were originally refused by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The inspector who held the recovered inquiries had also recommended the two projects, for a 28 megawatt and a 14 megawatt scheme, should be rejected.
Both appeals relate to the same site which is a single large L-shaped field of some 49-hectares of arable land. The field lies to the north of the village of Sawston. The shorter but fatter eastern arm abuts the Dales Manor Business Park and runs for about 700 metres in a northerly direction towards the River Granta.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark has dismissed appeals for two separate solar farms, each proposed for green belt locations, one in Worcestershire and the other in Essex. In both cases the planning inspectors who held the recovered appeal inquires had recommended that the projects should be refused.
The Worcestershire project involved an 8.9 megawatt solar farm scheme on a single site straddling the boundary between Wychavon District Council and Bromsgrove District Council. Both planning authorities had rejected the project.
In his decision letter Greg stressed that the project represented inappropriate development in the green belt which would cause “harm to the landscape character and visual amenities of the area and to the setting and significance of listed buildings”.
Should you go ahead with an installation, and what if you’ve already got panels?
The solar industry has been dealt yet more bad news – this time stemming from decisions made in Brussels.
The European Commission has announced that it is extending import tariffs on solar panels from China, which the Solar Trade Association believes is wrong given China has invested so much in mass manufacturing of the technology.
The solar industry has launched an emergency rescue plan for the British solar sector as an alternative to the government’s proposed cuts to Feed-in Tariffs.
The Solar Trade Association says its “£1 solar rescue plan”, which proposes more support than under the government proposals, alongside higher, more flexible caps on deployment, will secure a viable future for the sector and add just £1 to household bills.
The UK government says it plans to significantly reduce subsidies paid to small-scale green power installations.
Under the proposals, the amount of money paid to home owners and businesses producing electricity from roof-top solar and small wind turbines will be limited from January 2016.
Subsidy schemes could be closed to new entrants from the start of next year.
Ministers want to ensure that consumers who pay for the schemes through their bills get the best deal possible.
Subsidies for many new solar farms are to end under plans being published by the government.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is consulting on plans that would see subsidies for some new solar farms close by 2016.
The government says the move is necessary to protect consumers.
The solar industry said subsidies were one of the cheapest ways that the government could meet its climate change targets.
Scottish planning rules for commercial solar rooftop schemes look likely to be relaxed.
A nine-week consultation was launched on 22 June proposing to give permitted development rights (PDRs) to non-domestic solar rooftop and domestic air source heat pump installations.
The solar farm is part of the Big60Million community energy project, which has three further farms in Kent, Warwickshire and Stratford-upon-Avon, with planning permission secured for a fourth in Swindon.
Most solar rooftop projects will no longer need planning permission after permitted development rights (PDRs) were extended to installations of up to 1MW.
Previously PDRs were only available on projects of up to 50kW.
A 22ha solar farm in Wiltshire faces the prospect of being dismantled after the site’s planning permission was overturned in the High Court.
The UK’s largest solar farm has gone live in Hampshire.
Southwick Estate solar farm, near Fareham, has a 48MW capacity, enough to supply 14,500 homes, and has been built on 80ha of Grade 4 land deemed uneconomical for growing crops.
Strong demand for large-scale solar sites combined with limited grid capacity is keeping rents relatively high and putting landowners in a strong position, according to land agents.
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