Land Quality

There has been much debate about the grading of the land that would be used for the solar farm. The planning advice has always been that the best land should not be used for solar farms. Up to this point, the best land was thought to have been defined as grades 1, 2 and 3a.


This is important for the Ringmer site because Ovesco said some of the land was 3a and some 3b, so took a decision to grade it all 3b, suggesting it is acceptable to use it for solar. (We have already disputed this grading.)


However, in a recent meeting of the Government's Environment Audit Committee, George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was questioned about using land for solar power considering the surge in the number of projects being put forward.  The link to the speech is here:


https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/aaf848f6-7cb7-4c58-98bf-76abb69ede44


and you can find the relevant short discussion at 14.29.25. However, to sum up:

 

He pointed to guidance issued together with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to local authorities in 2015, which says it, ‘created a strong presumption against solar farms on Best and Most Versatile land, and that is classified in law as grade 3b or above'. He continued: ‘We’re conscious that there have been quite a few big schemes in recent months or over the last 12 months, where planning authorities seem to have either forgotten or started to disregard that advice. I don’t think new guidance was issued by MHCLG, but if . . . they don’t understand the legal definition of BMV land we will take that up with them. But 3b constitutes BMV land.’