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Land Use: Renewable Energy Generation

Volume 742: debated on Monday 4 December 2023

12. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero on the use of land for renewable energy generation. (900444)

The Government have in place a framework, developed in collaboration with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, that supports the deployment of renewable energy technologies. That is balanced by national planning policy, which is clear that land assets such as farmland must also be protected.

On current usage, 2,000 acres of solar panels are required to power around 50,000 homes, whereas a small modular reactor requires just two football pitches and powers 1 million homes. Does my hon. Friend agree that solar is a highly inefficient land use, and can he confirm that the provision to protect land used in food production remains in the new national planning policy framework?

I know that my hon. Friend has a long-standing interest in this issue. We will be publishing more on the NPPF shortly, but he is absolutely right that we need a variety of different energy sources that can support the UK’s future energy needs.

As the Minister knows, there is a disparity between the contracts for difference scheme for the mainland and what exists for Northern Ireland. I have made overtures to the Minister responsible to see whether we can get that changed, but that has not happened yet. Will the Minister use his influence to make sure that we in Northern Ireland are treated equally with everybody else in the United Kingdom?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question. He might like to write to me, or I am happy to speak to him separately in order to understand the issue, and either I or my colleagues in the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero will be happy to respond.