The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) has called on the Government to extend agricultural relief to all land with solar panels.
Concerns over inheritance tax is preventing farmers from using land to generate solar electricity, according to the association.
The ISEA is encouraging the Government to extend the qualifying criteria for agricultural relief to remove this barrier and support Ireland’s climate change objectives.
Agricultural relief allows farming families to inherit agricultural land without being subjected to high levels of inheritance tax.
Current rules allow farms with solar panels to qualify for the relief, provided that the panels do not take up more than 50% of the total usable land area.
The ISEA believes that this stipulation is inadvertently preventing farmers from using land for solar generation and diversifying farm income.
“Legacy planning is an important consideration for any farming family, particularly when land has been in the family for generations.
"It is therefore entirely understandable that few farmers would consider solar farms on any more than 49% of their land," said ISEA CEO Conall Bolger when outlining his concerns.
He says that farmers who would be able to benefit from solar may be unable to do so if only 49% of their land can be considered as there may be insufficient land available to develop a commercially viable project.
Utilising land for solar developments can offer farmers and land owners opportunities to diversify their revenues while still being used to graze livestock.
“For that reason, we believe any agricultural land being used for solar should still qualify for agricultural relief,” Bolger explains.
“This simple change to the tax code could have an immediate impact and would be of benefit to all stakeholders. Solar development offers the opportunity for farms across the country to participate in the decarbonisation of our electricity system by generating their own clean green energy,” he concluded.