The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) says that the Government’s proposals to cut the level of feed-in tariff incentives available to large-scale solar installations are “ill-judged” and “extremely damaging” to the renewable energy in Britain.

Under the planned, significantly reduced tariff rates, a 900m2 solar roof rated at 100kW would see a 42% cut in its generation tariff to 19p/kWh, while larger solar installations on rooftops or in fields would see incentives reduced by a massive 72%. The Government is proposing that these rates go through by August 1.

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, NFU Chief Adviser for Renewable Energy said, “We are horrified to see solar electricity incentives snatched away from our farmers and growers, many of whom have invested substantial amounts of their own project development money in good faith.

“These are not adjustments to the incentive scheme – this is an ill-judged slash-and-burn decision that sends an extremely damaging message to investors in UK renewable energy.”

The proposed deep cuts in solar tariffs above 50kW will render many farm rooftop schemes uneconomic, and the potential agri-environmental benefits of large solar farms will become a lost cause. No transitional arrangements have yet been announced for installations already under development.

“The fast-moving international solar industry will be driven from the shores of Britain, and the government will struggle to decarbonise power generation without the confidence of investors in land-based renewables. The timing could hardly be worse – this is a ghastly strategic mistake,” added Scurlock.