Solar, Wind Power

U.K. May Approve New Rules to Block ‘Inappropriate’ Solar Parks

The U.K. may bring in sustainability criteria to prevent “inappropriate” solar parks from receiving subsidies if tougher planning guidelines don’t work, Energy Minister Greg Barker said.

“I want local planning authorities to be much bolder in refusing inappropriate solar developments,” Barker said today in an interview at the sidelines of an industry conference in Birmingham. “If that’s not enough I will come forward with sustainability criteria and not allow them to claim subsidies.”

Ministers are trying to stem a backlash against renewable energy projects that some campaigners say blight the landscape and that also benefit from guaranteed power rates, raising consumer bills. The government in June announced plans for wind farm developers to pay communities to host their farms, and in July, ministers toughened solar park planning guidelines.

Inappropriate and unsustainable photovoltaic projects can include very large greenfield sites that antagonize local communities or raise questions over their impact on landscapes, Barker said.

The planning guidelines introduced in July were a response to concerns from politicians from rural constituencies, who aim to limit large-scale solar plants on fields. Such large projects are increasingly driving the fast-growth in solar capacity in the country, which surpassed 2.4 gigawatts at the end of June, according to the energy ministry.

“I want to make sure that a small minority of developers don’t ruin it for the rest of the industry,” Barker said as he presented a road map for the U.K.’s first solar strategy today.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Lead image: Solar panels via Shutterstock