A local MP has urged David Cameron to extend tough new rules enabling residents to stop construction of wind turbines to include large solar panel farms.
Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, raised constituency concerns over the impact on the landscape of the renewable energy source with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons.
The Tory backbencher called on David Cameron to subject so-called “solar fields” to the stricter planning guidance being introduced for wind turbines.
The rules tell councils that local people’s concerns should take precedence over the need for renewable energy.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron pointed out that the subsidy for solar energy had been cut by the Government.
Recently announced measures to tighten up the planning regulations for wind farms will give more say to residents, with developers also expected to meet higher standards in relation to engaging with local communities.
It is thought the move could spell the end of new onshore turbines, as it will make it much harder to build wind farms, and not many communities will be keen to take up the “sweetener” of payments.
Former energy minister John Hayes, a Minister without Portfolio and Prime Minister’s senior parliamentary adviser, has been widely credited with bringing about the changes.
Speaking in the Commons, Mrs Murray said: “Will the Prime Minister join me in praising the hard work of Mr Hayes and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for ensuring that planning decisions taken at local level concerning wind turbines remain local?
“However, many of my constituents in South East Cornwall are becoming increasingly concerned that our green fields are becoming solar fields. Should decisions on solar fields be subject to the same planning rules as wind turbines?”
Responding, Mr Cameron said: “I absolutely join her in praising the excellent work done by Mr Hayes, which has been carried on by Michael Fallon.
“They have both done a very good job at bringing some sanity to the situation on onshore wind.
“On solar panels, the Government of course substantially reduced the feed-in tariffs to ensure that this industry was not over-subsidised, because all subsidies end up on consumers’ bills and we should think very carefully about that.”
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