WEST Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has welcomed a Government commitment to protect the country’s best agricultural land from solar farm developments.

He said the move was invaluable for ensuring the country can produce more of its own food as global production comes under pressure from climate change.

The Government wants solar farms to only be built on brownfield or industrial sites, or on poorer-quality agricultural land, with high-grade land avoided.

It also wants planners to take account of the impact of multiple solar developments in the same locality.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the measures represented a line in the sand which would assist those campaigning against the spread of inappropriately-sited solar farms.

His comments come weeks after Elgin Energy lodged an appeal against planning refusal for a controversial 100-acre solar park on farmland near Tropiquaria zoo, Washford.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “This is precisely the kind of development these new measures are designed to block.

“There is already one solar array in this area and a second would have the effect of creating a massive, unsightly intrusion into a relatively unspoiled landscape, as well as being sited on high-grade land.

“I know many of my rural colleagues have been as concerned as I at the cumulative effects these projects can have.

“Not only have we been alarmed by their visual impact, we have warned the Government time and again that we cannot go on sacrificing prime farmland to solar power generation.

“Improving our ability to feed ourselves from our own land must take priority.”