Solar energy (England)

The Ramblers works to help everyone enjoy the pleasures and benefits of walking and to enhance and protect the places where people walk. We are committed to encouraging and supporting walking, protecting and expanding public rights of way and access land and protecting the beauty of the countryside and other areas.

We recognise the threat posed to our countryside by climate change, which could severely alter many of our cherished landscapes. We support measures to mitigate this by switching to renewable sources of energy including the use of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.

PV arrays should be installed as close to the point of use as possible, with particular use made of roofs on homes and large public or commercial buildings. When there is a need for large-scale solar PV arrays (‘solar farms’) these should be sensitively situated so that they do not damage valued landscapes. Planning authorities should seek to avoid permitting such large scale developments in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other areas of high scenic value, instead exercising a preference for already developed areas (e.g. industrial parks and brownfield sites).

In drawing up proposals for large-scale solar PV arrays, developers must detail appropriate measures to reduce visual impact and protect the natural environment. Planning authorities must consider the size and scale of a proposed development as well as any cumulative impacts, consult fully with local communities and interest groups and reflect their concerns in negotiations with developers to ensure local residents receive tangible benefits.

In order to meet the UK’s future energy needs the Government must pursue a policy which prioritises energy conservation and energy efficiency. Ministers must also invest in a broad range of renewable energy (including the research and development required to speed up the commercial availability of less intrusive technologies) and support the development of community energy schemes through providing national leadership, financial incentives and regulatory reform.