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Ellough: Solar farm bid looks set for green light

09:00 11 January 2013

Solar farm developers are hoping to gain approval at Stratton Hall, next to the A14 between Levington and Kirton.

Solar farm developers are hoping to gain approval at Stratton Hall, next to the A14 between Levington and Kirton.

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GREEN energy developers are awaiting approval for a 150-acre solar farm to be installed on land at a Second World War airfield in north Suffolk.

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Lincolnshire-based Lark Energy plans to build a 30 megawatt solar park, with enough capacity to power 7,000 homes, at Ellough airfield, near Beccles.

Waveney planning officers have recommended the plans for approval by district council committee members on Tuesday. If given the go ahead, work could start later this year.

Lark Energy has already won approval for a bigger solar farm in Leicestershire and also has plans for another 30MW project at Stradishall airfield, near Haverhill.

The company proposes to locate the £30m Ellough development to the south of Benacre Road and the former airstrip - built by the US Air Force in 1943 and now home to a kart track, parachute training centre and various industrial units, including plastics company Promens, which has one of the UK’s largest rooftop solar installations.

Developers anticipate the solar farm operating for a minimum of 25 to 30 years, after which the 101,640 photovoltaic panels will still work at 80% of their original capacity and remain in operation until the end of their viable economic life.

The site will then be decommissioned and restored back to agricultural use.

Ellough Parish Council raised objections about the scheme, arguing that the panels could pose “significant serious safety hazards to the users of the airfield”, and that the solar farm will have a visual impact and affect job prospects in the area.

But planning officers have recommended its approval subject to several conditions – that it has a minimum 25-year life span, that no construction work takes place at night, and that it can be dismantled if inoperative for six months.

The application originally included a 12.5-acre area to the north of Benacre Road which has since been removed from the plans.Last month, an 11MW solar farm was approved by the planning committee at the former Holton Airfield, near Halesworth, and a 12.3MW solar farm at Mill Lane, Wissett.

The committee is also expected to approve two 17-metre high “micro-scale” wind turbines in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Whitehouse Farm, in Henstead, where planning permission for three wind turbines was refused in April 2012.

Objectors say the current application would still have a negative affect but planning officers report that the revised scheme would be closer to farm buildings and have a lesser impact on the AONB.

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