Farm renewable energy boost

FARMERS’ leaders have welcomed Government plans to exempt small-scale renewable energy schemes on farms from planning regulations.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) say plans to enable on-farm renewables to be built without planning permission will help farmers to cut their energy costs and deliver a boost to the wider rural economy by creating new sources of income from farm and forestry waste products.

The move means planning permission will no longer be required for farmers who install renewable generators such as solar panels on existing buildings and anaerobic digesters on farming or non-domestic land.

NFU planning policy adviser Ivan Moss said: “This is very good news for our members. The permitted development rights will enable farmers to install small scale renewable energy generation without needing to obtain planning permission. It will reduce their energy costs and make their production greener, making it a win-win for everyone.

“It will also be a boost for the rural economy, so we are pleased that the NFU’s lobbying work has been so successful.

“Although some other installations such as air source heat pumps have been excluded at present, the NFU recognise their value and hope that government will recognise the part they have to play in the future of renewable energy generation.”

The CLA says the proposals for permitted development rights that allow agricultural and forestry businesses to build renewable energy projects will help farmers find alternative sources of income from farm and forestry waste products.

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CLA East regional director Nicola Currie said: “This is fantastic news for the rural economy. The CLA has lobbied for permitted development rights for five years so that land managers can use farm and forestry buildings to house forestry biomass burners, on-farm anaerobic digesters and hydro turbines without applying for complex and costly planning permission.

“The Government has encouraged farmers to diversify since 2007. It has now removed the barriers of planning permissions and has delivered a green policy that really benefits the rural economy.”