Since 2015, 376 solar energy projects have been approved in the South West, compared to an average of 244 project approvals per region. This is the highest number of approved projects for any region in the UK.
The rate of planning refusal for solar energy projects, at 7.8%, was lower than the national average of 8%.
In a Westminster Hall debate, Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate, called on the government to bind climate change legislation to planning legislation, empowering local councils to speed up planning decisions on renewable energy projects.
It comes as House of Commons research, commissioned by the Liberal Democrats, reveals that the South West has approved both the highest number of solar energy projects of any region in the UK, and the highest number of solar energy projects per head of population.
Mrs Hobhouse noted that the South West had built the UK’s first transmission-connected solar farm, and commended B&NES Council for being the first UK council to introduce a Net Zero housing policy. She stressed the importance of empowering local authorities to speed up planning decisions and secure cheaper, greener energy for their constituents.
Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate, commented: “I am pleased to see that my region of the South West is leading the way on solar energy. Every project we approve will provide more cheap, green, and secure energy to residents across the South West, including my constituents in Bath.
“We are in a time of climate crisis and fast action is crucial, but it is only with consent from our communities that we can deliver the path to net zero. That is why empowering local authorities is so vital. I am calling on the government to grant local authorities the power and resources necessary to approve more renewable energy projects, faster, so we can all benefit through cheaper, greener, and more secure energy.”