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published: 11/9/2014
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Some PVs with your lamb sir?

BRE National Solar Centre guidance published today expounds best practice in coupling conventional agriculture and ground-mounted solar electricity generation.

The new guide*, compiled in partnership with the National Farmers Union, the Solar Trade Association and a number of leading solar companies explains how solar farms can easily be combined with free-range chicken and poultry raising and the grazing of sheep.

The guidance makes clear that the addition of a solar array does not require a reduction in the number of animals – once the plant is built farmers can continue to graze sheep at normal stocking density. Once the solar farm is in place, 95% of a field is still accessible to vegetation growth and agricultural use.

Director of the BRE National Solar Centre Jonny Williams said

'As more farmers look for alternative ways to supplement their traditional income, it’s become vital that definitive advice is made available for the agri-community. Working in partnership with the solar industry and the NFU we have produced a valuable guide that sets out best practice for the integration of solar farms with conventional agriculture, ensuring that farmers get a year-round ‘solar harvest’ to supplement their regular business The guide complements the National Solar Centre’s existing publications on planning and biodiversity.'

Guy Smith, Vice President of the National Farmers Union said:

'It is clear that renewable energy can support profitable farming, underpinning traditional agricultural production with additional returns that make businesses more resilient. This guidance document shows how solar farms can indeed be multifunctional, simultaneously meeting food and energy needs as well as enhancing biodiversity.  Only a negligible land take is required to make a major contribution to Britain's clean energy needs, so the future looks bright for solar grazed lamb and free-range solar chicken.'

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association, said:

'This latest planning guidance complements the Solar Trade Association’s efforts to ensure that the solar industry works in partnership, not in competition, with farming. This explains how to do free-range, home-grown solar at its best – a secure solution to Britain’s energy crisis that generates clean energy side-by-side with food production. That roast lamb Sunday lunch has just got a lot sunnier.'

The Agricultural Good Practice Guidance for Solar Farms joins a suite of guidance on best practice for solar developments published by the BRE National Solar Centre. Earlier this year the centre, along with the Solar Trade Association and leading conservation NGOs, published the ‘Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments’** on how to use solar farms as wildlife havens.

Devon farmer Gilbert Churchill, who last year added solar to his grazing land near Axminster in Devon, said:

'It’s environmentally friendly and it suits the farm industry very much because it gives a secure regular income. That’s very important to me and to other farmers as the industry is struggling at the moment to make ends meet. It’s a lifeline. With solar panels you can run sheep, as I do. It’s very quiet, you don’t know it’s there, and it’s generating power for the local community.'

For further information please contact Linda McKeown, BRE, tel 01923 664569, email mckeownl@bre.co.uk

Notes to Editors

BRE National Solar Centre www.bre.co.uk/nsc

* Please find a copy of the BRE National Solar Centre’s new report ‘Agricultural Good Practice Guidance for Solar Farms’ report here.

**The BRE National Solar Centre’s previous report, ‘Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments’, can be found here.


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