Rooftop Revolution event – November 2023
We had a very successful event in November 2023 calling for a rooftop revolution to save our countryside.
The afternoon was hosted by our President, Mariella Frostrup and our panel of speakers were:
- Chris Hinchliff, Campaigns Manager, CPRE
- Karen Squibb-Williams (Barrister), Vice Chair, Solar Campaign Alliance
- George Dunn, CEO, Tenant Farmers Association
- Clare Bottle, CEO, UK Warehousing Association
- Tim Cook, Commercial Energy Consultant, Solarsense
Each spoke briefly and then we invited questions from the audience.
Saving our countryside
Chris Hinchliff explained CPRE’s Rooftop Solar campaign and Karen Squibb-Williams spoke of the enormous Botley West solar park which is proposed in the Oxford Green Belt. All agreed that we should be keeping our best farmland for growing food and for nature and we should prioritise rooftop solar to meet renewable energy targets. George Dunn spoke of tenant farmers who are threatened with losing their livelihood as tenancies are becoming shorter and some landowners opt for solar rather than taking on more tenants to farm the land.
Clare Bottle said UK Warehousing Association have been campaigning for more commercial rooftop solar but this is thwarted by grid connection problems and an unhelpful tax system. Currently, only 5% of warehouses have any solar panels on their roofs. If they do have solar, it is only covering around 25% of the roof, typically. Government support through tax relief and business rates relief is need to allow this percentage to rise.
Tim Cook, Solarsense, said that people often think ground mounted solar is a quick way to hit renewable energy targets. In reality, it can take years for large scale solar farms to get through the planning system, whereas rooftop solar can be installed quickly, often with no need for planning permission. People can expect payback on their investments in less than 6 years, including paying back the loan for the cost of the panels.
Chris Hinchliff explained that the UK desperately needs an energy strategy, rather than the current system which is dominated by a few opportunistic investors making huge profits.
We are very grateful to Mariella and to all of our speakers for generously giving up their time for us – and thank you to everyone who attended. We asked everyone who attended to sign our petition asking the Government to unleash the potential of rooftop solar and to urge their MP to become a Parliamentary Rooftop Solar Champion.
If you would like to be sent a copy of any of the slides from the event, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org