Rory Stewart MP has taken up the fight against large-scale solar farm applications in his constituency, comparing their potential negative impact on local communities, economy and industry to that of wind turbines, which he is publicly opposed to. Rory is known for his active and vocal support of local anti-turbine campaigns, and is similarly supporting constituents who are concerned about the recent spate of solar-farm applications in Penrith and The Border.

Speaking today Rory said: “I am not opposed to solar power as a means of generating energy. Indeed I support domestic solar installation, and it is an industry that provides many jobs in Cumbria. But I am concerned at the volume of large-scale solar farm applications we are seeing, in one of the most beautiful regions of our country. I am officially opposing solar farm applications in my constituency for broadly the same reasons that I am opposed to large-scale wind-turbine developments. They are directly against the expressed interests of many in the local community. This is their landscape and their community, and they should be able to determine – except in the most extreme circumstances – the future and nature of their locality. Secondly, I fear their construction will have a deep and long-term negative impact on the economy of Cumbria. Tourism is our main income earner, bringing in over one billion pounds each year, and this tourism is directly dependent on our natural landscape (far more than in other parts of the UK which may have tourism based on sun, or food, or historic buildings; people come to Cumbria for its wild and unspoilt landscape).”

“Having taken such effective steps to protect our landscape through legislation on curbing on-shore wind farms, we are in danger of undoing all this good work. These solar farms are on average sites in excess of 20-25 acres – that is, slightly under the size of a traditional farm in a typical Cumbrian valley. Alarmingly, I note that when the solar farm reaches the end of its term, the land would be classified as a brown-field site, rather than reverting to agricultural land. It is the central arguments of landscape, economy, and above all community wishes that matter in this case. My hope therefore, is that we can, as Cumbrians, harness the strength of our opposition and highlight the importance of our landscape to our economy and our lives, and stop trying to force such developments through.”

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