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Urgent action needed to improve grid connections for farmers say key figures at Low Carbon Agriculture Show

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On the day the UK government announced a new Department for Energy and Net Zero, headed up by Grant Shapps, speakers at Low Carbon Agriculture show 2023 called for urgent action to improve grid connections to reach net zero and build energy security in the UK.

Speaking in the keynote session, Alan Whitehead, Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal at the Labour Party, called for an overhaul of the grid system, pledging to invest over £60billion to deliver the energy changes needed, both onshore and offshore.

“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.” he said.

Jonathan Scurlock, NFU chief climate change advisor, chaired the keynote session at the LCA23

Jonathan Scurlock, NFU chief climate change advisor, chaired the keynote session and stressed that top of the agenda for the NFU is still energy security, climate change and food security, but he went on to call for improved grid connection and access to technology to help reach the NFU’s ambition of net zero by 2040.

While the appetite for integration of renewable energy on farms was strong at the show, there are still barriers to decentralised energy systems. Bill Rees, Centrica Business Solutions, speaking in the solar session, said: “Grid connections are the biggest barriers to renewable energy in the UK.”

The new Environmental Improvement Plan

Also speaking in the keynote session, Trudy Harrison, Minister for Natural Environment and Land Use at Defra outlined key points in the new Environmental Improvement Plan and stating that the Government will work with farmers to restore the natural environment.

“Environmentally sustainable farming is fundamental to our new approach to England’s agricultural system. It’s our aim that 65-80% of farmers adopt ‘nature friendly’ farming on at least 10-15% of their land by 2030.” she said.

“Food is still the primary purpose of farming and it always will be, but if we want farming and food production to be resilient over the long term then farming and nature can and must go hand in hand.” The Minister added.

LCA 2023Susan Twining, CLA land use and policy advisor, discussed what the new plan would mean for farmers and called for more clarity:

“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.”

Aled Jones, NFU Wales, said the underlying scheme in Wales will appreciate the importance of boosted farm efficiency.

“We have to deliver increased production with increased efficiency, and it has to be profitable.”

EVs at LCA 2023Low Carbon Agriculture Show took place at the NAEC, Stoneleigh, over two days on 7 and 8 February 2023, welcoming thousands of farmers and landowners, and including four key areas of focus: Energy Now Expo, Environmental Business Expo, Low Emission Vehicles Expo and Farm Technology Expo.


Low Carbon Agriculture Show 2023

The event included one of the most extensive, topical conference programmes in the farming calendar, featuring over 100 expert speakers, including representatives from the Allerton Project, Savills, the Sustainable Food Trust, the Soil Association, REA, Severn Trent, IBERS, Swanbarton, Conrad Energy, and key figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Environment Agency, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

LCA 2023Many farmers and land managers were also present to share their experiences and to highlight the benefits of clean energy generation and sustainable farm practices. Conference topics range from soil health, carbon farming, agri-tech, energy storage and sustainable water management to updates on environmental land management schemes, as well as sessions dedicated to each renewable energy type.

The next Low Carbon Agriculture show will take place on 6-7 March 2024, at the National Agriculture and Exhibition Centre (NAEC), Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.

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