According to news reports, farmers have been persuaded by promises of high returns to lease their land for solar farms, only to find that they have to pay consolidated income tax or — because their land is no longer used for agricultural purposes — land value or land value increment taxes.
Farmers have also found that changing the classification of their land has disqualified them from farmers’ social and health insurance. They are now condemning solar energy developers for not providing them with all the necessary information beforehand.
Because of widespread limited legal literacy, contract disputes are common. This is why the Consumer Protection Act (消費者保護法) stipulates that the Executive Yuan and its subordinate authorities can mandate or prohibit provisions in standard contracts for individual industries.
So far there are no standard contracts that owners of farmland or other property can use for solar farms when entering an agreement with energy businesses.
This means that the consequences farmers might suffer are not covered by provisions for standard contracts.
As solar power is part of national policy, solar-farm development is expected to continue to expand, and other landowners would probably have similar concerns.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs should consider standardizing contracts to fully protect the rights and interests of landowners.
In addition, given the high costs of solar power equipment, including its recycling, it is worth considering whether the policy should allow for the use of formal contracts for immovable property, such as for vehicle and ship registration.
Solar farming involves many legal issues. For example, the area for solar-panel installation is restricted by regulations on the building coverage ratio.
However, solar panels are not immovable property and cannot be legally treated as such. It is inappropriate to apply the existing regulations on the building coverage ratio on solar farming.
Therefore, it would be more appropriate to formulate special regulations for solar panels on farmland.
Shen Nai-hsun is a former confidential secretary at the Kaohsiung City Government.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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