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Rooftop Solar Panel

Volume 748: debated on Tuesday 16 April 2024

The Government recently consulted on the future homes and buildings standards, which explore how we can drive on-site renewable electricity generation, such as solar panels, in new homes and buildings. In December we simplified planning processes for larger rooftop installations by removing the 1 MW cap for non-domestic arrays in permitted development rights.

The CPRE’s rooftop solar campaign calls for far greater emphasis on the installation of solar panels on our nation’s rooftops, rather than the promotion of ground-mounted solar on greenfield and agricultural land, which harms our natural environment and imperils UK food security. Would the Minister be kind enough to read the CPRE’s “Lighting the way” report, which highlights international best practice on this issue?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and his recommended reading. I was aware of the CPRE’s rooftop campaign, and I am keen to understand the findings of its latest report. As set out in the British energy security strategy and the energy security plan, we are aiming for 70 GW of solar capacity by 2035. That would be more than quadruple our current installed capacity. We need to maximise the deployment of both types of solar to achieve that ambition.

This is my first chance to offer my condolences to you, Mr Speaker, on the death of your dad. He was a great man and helped induct me into this place when I first came here in 1979.

If we are to have a proper domestic solar roll-out across, we desperately need more trained people in the green sector. What will the Minister do about that? Is it not about time that every university and further education college offered apprenticeships and ways in to these wonderful jobs? Will he talk to industry leaders, such as Octopus, about their shortage of skilled men and women?

Absolutely. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regularly meets companies such as Octopus. Through our green jobs delivery plan we are enticing more people into the jobs of the future, to help deliver our ambitious targets. It is interesting to note that Labour’s plans would halve the number of apprenticeships for those jobs in the UK, should it ever get into power.