Solar Farms and Battery Storage

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:17 pm on 8th June 2022.

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Photo of Eddie Hughes Eddie Hughes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) 5:17 pm, 8th June 2022

In the absence of the Minister responsible for housing and planning, I undertake to share with him the views that have been raised, although I am sure he is aware of this debate and will read it subsequently.

Valerie Vaz mentioned a current planning application in Walsall. As a planning Minister, I cannot comment on that. I feel a degree of assurance that Walsall Council will be able to handle that application. In relation to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, I can assure her that this Government certainly intend to continue to protect the green belt.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn raised a scheme that I can only imagine is of national significance and therefore will be determined by the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. That falls outside my purview, but I will make sure that BEIS Ministers are aware of her concern.

I share the ambition of Matt Rodda to maximise the use of brownfield sites or put more solar on top of existing buildings, squeezing solar in everywhere that will not impact on the enjoyment of the countryside.

Finally, it is good to see Mike Amesbury at the Dispatch Box again. The war in Ukraine has told us that we need to maximise our energy security by making sure that we have access to oil, because that is clearly how we generate lots of our electricity, while continuing our commitment to a transition to net zero by doing things such as scaling up our solar power production dramatically.

As I said at the start, Mr Paisley, I am a poor substitute for my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing. I will convey the thoughts of Members present to him and I look forward to him responding to Members in due course.