Tory leadership candidates take aim at solar and wind

Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have set theirs sights on limiting or reversing solar farms and onshore wind power, despite the mounting energy crisis. 

The hopefuls have promised to either halt or reverse different renewable energy schemes, such as onshore wind or solar, by amending the law as part of their bids to become the next prime minister.

In a hustings meeting in Exeter last week, Truss vowed to crack down on solar farms, stating that “our fields shouldn’t be full of solar panels”.

Truss, who is widely seen as the frontrunner in the leadership race, has said that she would amend planning rules to ensure farming is prioritised over new solar projects.

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak also said he would restrict solar developments on farmland, and stated in July that he would also scale back onshore wind schemes.

In the past, solar farms have been criticised for the amount of land they take up. Typically, they need about 25 acres of land for every 5MW of electricity generated, which powers close to 1,500 homes.

The biggest solar farm in the UK is located in Oxfordshire and, at 4MW, it can power up to 14,000 homes. There are an estimated 469 solar farms across the UK, contributing 11.6GW of power per year to the grid.

The schemes are still backed by the public, however. A recent survey of Conservative party members – whose votes will pick the next PM – showed 71 per cent were in favour of the renewable energy source.

The UK’s solar industry has also raised concerns over the Tory candidates’ rhetoric.

Chief executive of Solar Energy UK Chris Hewett said: “The solar industry is deeply concerned about Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak’s recent comments about solar farms. Solar farms offer cheap, clean power, and time and again have proven to be popular with the public. 

“Yet the two candidates for prime minister are falling over themselves to say how much they dislike it. How did we end up in this alternative universe?”

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