Amber Rudd, junior minister for energy and climate change has become the latest Conservative minister to criticise the deployment of solar farms in the UK after she said solar farms “are not particularly welcome” in the UK.

Responding to a question from Labour MP, Julie Elliott which asked if the recent move by the government to scrap CAP payments for land with solar farms on it was evidence based, Rudd said: “Solar farms are not particularly welcome because we believe that solar should be on the roofs of buildings and homes, not in the beautiful green countryside. We are proud to stand on that record.”

The government expressed its preference for rooftop solar deployment in 2013 but has gradually hardened its opposition to ground-mounted projects.

Changes to support for large-scale solar projects will see only those below 5MW in size eligible for the renewable obligation scheme. It has also hinted that support for sites of that size could be reviewed if there was a flood of 5MW developments.

The government has previously said it would “put rocket boosters” under the commercial rooftop sector. Policy changes so far have been minor and fundamental flaws with the support regime remain.

What was a preference for rooftop now appears to have morphed into open hostility for ground mount following environment secretary, Elizabeth Truss’ claim that: “English farmland is some of the best in the world and I want to see it dedicated to growing quality food and crops. I do not want to see its productive potential wasted and its appearance blighted by solar farms.”

Truss’ comments have cleared the way for other Conservative MPs to use them as justification for opposing solar farms. West Lancashire MP, Rosie Cooper reportedly told the Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Advertiser: “I’m pleased to see the secretary of state for DEFRA agrees that farmland should not ‘see its productive potential wasted and its appearance blighted by solar farms’…We cannot accept a situation in which West Lancashire becomes a dumping ground for these renewable energy projects from which others benefit to the significant detriment of the borough.”

Reacting to Amber Rudd’s comments on Thrusday, Sonia Dunlop, campaign coordinator at the Solar Trade Association said: “The fact is that we need solar on rooftops and in solar farms. Properly sited solar farms are a home for sheep and a haven for local wildlife, and we were pleased to see that the STA's standard setting work in the form of the 10 Commitments was referenced in today's parliamentary debate. We hope that Amber Rudd will look at the evidence, listen to what MPs are telling her and recognise that our 'beautiful green countryside' and solar can go hand in hand.”