I spent some of August on trains across Europe, gazing out at vast swathes of parched earth, dwindled rivers and failing crops. Climate change was plainly in action across the entire continent. Then I glanced at social media to find the two individuals vying to become Prime Minister competing with each other to say how terrible solar farms are.
This was deeply depressing and angering. Anyone in the solar industry will have watched with horror. Now we know, of course, that not only do we have a Prime Minister who dislikes the sight of solar ‘paraphernalia’ but she has appointed a Secretary of State, in Jacob Rees-Mogg who has previously denied climate change. We have some challenging conversations ahead with government.
But look closer at the commentary around the Conservative leadership election. It’s clear there are two sides and a growing number of vocal supporters of solar on the Right.
Some of Truss and Sunak’s comments were clearly designed to attract some die-hard NIMBY votes from the very narrow electorate that selects the leader of their party, notwithstanding the fact that 73% of Conservative Party members actually support solar farms. But what is interesting in the last month has been the breadth of criticism that their remarks have drawn from natural allies in right wing think tanks, media and the farming industry.