A Liberal Democrat MP has called the development of solar farms in his constituency a “monstrous desecration of our natural environment”.

Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne made the comments when lending his support to a local campaign that is fighting a potential solar farm in Hele near Bradford on Tone. The plans, submitted by solar developer MS Power, propose using 20.6 hectares of land to host a 9.5MW solar farm.

Commenting on the potential development Jeremy Browne said that the “massive new solar farms being proposed” represent the “monstrous desecration of our local natural environment”.

Browne continued: “In no normal sense can these accurately be described as solar “farms” – they are the industrialisation of agricultural land. They are ugly and brutal, with fences and CCTV cameras surrounding the rows of huge solar panels. Once planning permission has been granted for these hideous constructions the original gentle countryside will be lost forever.”

The Lib Dem MP refuted allegations of NIMBYism, saying that he actually supports an increase in solar power generation, especially on existing industrial buildings.

Browne added: “This is not about being a ‘NIMBY’ about new development. What matters is whether we have the right kind of development. Most people accept that some extra house building is necessary, even if the locations of new developments can be controversial. But I do not believe that we should be going down the path at all of covering beautiful agricultural land in solar farms.”

Browne’s objection is the latest in a groundswell of MPs who have expressed their displeasure with the current rate of solar farm developments – especially in rural areas. Bowing to concerted pressure, climate and energy minister Greg Barker recently issued revised planning guidance for solar farms that encourages local planning authorities to give more weight to local concerns.  

Browne concluded: “Deane Borough Council should not feel cowered into granting planning permission for applications to build solar farms. The developers who are pushing for construction on these sites have absolutely no interest in maintaining the beauty of the Taunton Deane countryside.”