The Low Carbon Agriculture show 2023, held on February 7 and 8, 2023, heard calls for action to improve grid connections to reach net zero and build energy security in the UK.
The show welcomed thousands of farmers and landowners and included an extensive conference programme, with over 100 expert speakers.
Shadow minister for Energy and the Green New Deal at the Labour Party, Alan Whitehead’s keynote session emphasised the need for an overhaul of the grid system. He pledged to invest over £60bn to ensure the energy changes are made both on and offshore.
He said: “Our fully renewable power system would consist of a substantial push forward of renewable energy systems, this would include a threefold increase in solar, double the amount of onshore wind and other renewable technology such as tidal energy.”
NFU’s chief climate change advisor, Jonathan Scurlock, chaired the session and emphasised the NFU’s commitment to energy security, climate change and food security, but he also echoed the views of Mr Whitehead, stating that the upgrades to the grid connection and improved technology access was vital to ensure the NFU reach its 2040 net zero ambition.
Barriers to decentralised energy systems remain, however, and Centrica Business Solution’s Bill Rees said in the solar session: “Grid connections are the biggest barriers to renewable energy in the UK.”
Trudy Harrison, Defra’s minister for natural environment and land use, used the keynote session to outline key points in the government’s new Environmental Improvement Plan, and said the department will work alongside farmers to restore the natural environment. CLA land use and policy advisor, Susan Twining, discussed the need for further clarity for farmers: “More clarity is needed on ecosystem services, market guidance, and information on whether you can stack schemes together – there are lots of questions still there.”
The next Low Carbon Agriculture show will take place on 6-7 March 2024, at the National Agriculture and Exhibition Centre (NAEC), Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.