Farmers affected by plans for new energy infrastructure must be fully consulted given the impact on their businesses and food production, the NFU has insisted.
The NFU is also calling on government to move the network offshore as much as possible in order to avoid disruption to food producers.
The government is looking at the rollout of new infrastructure as part of ambitious proposals to connect electricity being produced from offshore wind projects and solar farms. This means either upgrading existing infrastructure or building a new national transmission network.
The NFU noted that the plans as announced could result in miles of pylons and overhead cables being installed across thousands of acres of land, impacting food production and the landscape.
The union’s vice president David Exwood said: “British farm businesses have a big part to play in helping to deliver renewable electricity, something which is a key pillar of our net-zero ambition.
“However, as we know all too well, national infrastructure projects can cause huge disruption to day-to-day farming operations and last for many years. For example, pylons and overhead cables can be very dangerous in the vicinity of working agricultural machinery due to concerns over height.
“The NFU believes government should have a properly coordinated offshore network; this is where the energy is created, and only when needed would the electric come on to land with overhead lines or underground cables. This would minimise any damage to the countryside and be less impactful on our ability to produce food.
“If infrastructure is to be delivered quickly onshore, it’s vital that Transmission Owners, especially the National Grid, fully consult with those farmers affected and work closely with them to determine locations for pylons and the undergrounding of cables.
“Importantly, we also need to know whether farmers will be fairly compensated and, as the recent Winser Report suggests, receive lump sum payments like individual households for hosting new infrastructure on their land.”