Planners and government officials gathered at Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire, today to hear directly from the solar industry about the benefits of solar farms in the UK.

Large-scale solar farm developments have been hitting planners' desks with increasing frequency, driving the UK towards becoming Europe’s largest solar market. However, the relatively new concept of solar farms in the UK means that there is often a lack of knowledge over the real benefits and drawbacks of solar farm developments.

The Planners’ Workshop brings together some of the solar industry’s leading thinkers to help shed light on the process of developing solar farms, from planning to development and connection.

Addressing delegates, Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association noted that the solar industry wants solar farms to be seen as a friend to the countryside, not an enemy. Greene explained that solar farms offer a unique opportunity to create clean energy as well as help conserve natural habitat.  

In addition, Greene said that the STA was particularly disappointed by the continued politicisation of solar farm developments. She stressed that DECC’s public opinion trackers consistently showed that over 80% of the British public support the development of solar, with the number opposing rising from 1% to 2%. Indeed, the STA’s own YouGov poll showed that over 70% supported solar farms. Greene concluded: “We [the solar industry] feel politically that we don’t get much support, especially when you contrast that with shale gas.”

The Planners’ Workshop kicks off the Large Scale Solar UK conference which is running from 29 April to 1 May.

For the solar industry there is a two-day conference starting tomorrow. The conference will address all of the sector’s most pressing issues, including the government’s shift of emphasis towards roof-mounted solar as revealed in the Solar Strategy.

The full conference programme and tickets can be viewed here.