MP Virginia Crosbie warns mega solar could harm island

Ynys Môn MP Virginia Crosbie has warned that plans for a mega 1200-acre solar farm on the island risks sacrificing vast areas of agricultural land and the UK’s food security.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate yesterday, Virginia said the proposal by Lightsource BP was the largest in the company’s portfolio.

She explained the island’s community, like other rural communities, is under threat from a slew of solar proposals.

Such a vast expanse of land – the same as more than 900 football pitches – would only generate enough power for 133,000 homes when a nuclear power station would power six million on a fraction of the footprint, Virginia told MPs.

Larger applications are considered by the Welsh Government, who are six hours away in Cardiff, she said. She explained that local communities were concerned that that will take large-scale development decisions away from them.

“I would like to stress that I am not anti-solar or anti-renewables and I am not anti the environment [but] the subject of planning for solar farms is incredibly important to rural communities,” Virginia told MPs.

“I represent communities particularly concerned about the threat of mega solar farms on our landscape, our culture and our heritage, in particular a proposal by Lightsource BP.

“We must implement solar with extreme caution. For developers, it is an attractive solution, as land is relatively cheap, solar panels can be imported at low cost, and there is minimal upkeep and maintenance, which means that little local employment is generated. That must be balanced against the energy generation capacity.

“There is another, possibly more important, consideration. Ynys Môn was known historically as Môn Mam Cymru—Anglesey, mother of Wales—because our fertile agricultural land fed the Welsh people in times of need.

“We need a strong agricultural community, and it is those great swathes of fertile, historical agricultural land that are particularly attractive to solar farm developers.

“Earlier this year, FarmingUK wrote that the UK is on the verge of food security concerns not seen since World War 2, and in 2020 the UK imported 46% of the food we consume.

“I hope that the minister will take on board the risk that, in the rush to achieve net zero, however laudable, we may sacrifice vast areas of agricultural land, and hence our food security, to solar panels, which do not offer the dependable, large-scale solution we need to the energy crisis.”

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