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Suffolk: Griff Rhys Jones is ‘delighted’ after Government dismisses appeal over huge solar farm at Tattingstone

PUBLISHED: 15:04 03 June 2014

Actor Griff Rhys Jones has hailed a decision to dismiss an appeal which sought to install one of the UKs largest solar farms in the Suffolk countryside.

Actor Griff Rhys Jones has hailed a decision to dismiss an appeal which sought to install one of the UKs largest solar farms in the Suffolk countryside.

Actor Griff Rhys Jones has hailed a decision to dismiss an appeal which sought to install one of the UK’s largest solar farms in the Suffolk countryside.

The Government’s Planning Inspectorate yesterday turned down an appeal launched by Pegasus Planning Group, on behalf of Eco Energy World, in a long-standing dispute to build a solar farm across 94 acres of farmland in Tattingstone, near Ipswich.

The proposals, put forward initially by developers Hive Energy in October 2012, were met with disdain by campaign groups and residents.

In May last year, Mr Rhys Jones, who lives besides the Stour, described them as “cack-handed and opportunistic”. Hive Energy argued they formed part of a greener future and were not in an environmentally sensitive area.

They were dismissed in June last year by Babergh District Council, despite officers recommending approval.

The green developers appealed the decision, which led to a public inquiry at nearby Stutton Community Hall.

And yesterday it emerged the appeal has been dismissed.

Elizabeth Ord, the planning inspectorate, said in the report confirming the decision: “Taking all matters into consideration, in my judgement, the harm that would result from the development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.

“The location of the proposal on the appeal site has not been justified and, consequently, I conclude that the planning balance is firmly against allowing the development. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed.”

If approved, the £18-20 million construction of Valley Farm Solar Park would have existed for at least 25 years in Coxhall Road.

It would have consisted of 42,000 tilted, static solar PV panels mounted on to a metal framework secured by posts embedded in to the ground.

Last year, the developers argued up to 5,400 homes could have been powered by the site, with up to 7,740 tonnes of CO2 emissions being prevented every year.

But Babergh District Council councillor David Wood, who represents Tattingstone, claimed it was the “industrialisation of the countryside”, harming an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Last night, speaking from a film set in Morocco, Mr Rhys Jones said he was “heartened” by the decision to dismiss the appeal.

“It is not a victory or a failure of the countryside: it is just a very sensible decision,” he said.

“I am delighted by this news.”

It comes just a week after Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, dismissed a similar appeal – and refused planning permission – brought forward by Hive Energy after their proposals for a 25 megawatt (mW) project across 127 acres of farmland at Hacheston, near Framlingham, was repeatedly rejected by Suffolk Coastal District Council.

A spokesman for the Stour and Orwell Society said: “We have been consistently opposed to the proposals, which we felt had no grounds, and are delighted the appeal has been turned down.”

A Pegasus Planning Group spokesman was, today, unavailable for comment.

Witham MP Priti Patel faced questions over the prospect of a possible Cabinet return this morning in her first broadcast interview since quitting over her secret meetings with senior Israeli figures last year.

This is the last week that market traders will operate from Ipswich’s Cornhill for at least a year as work to rebuild the town centre is due to start.

Young apprentices in Haverhill have been honoured at an awards ceremony held to celebrate their successes and achievements.

Drivers are being warned they could face delays as roadworks begin at one of Ipswich’s busiest junctions this morning.

The government has still not agreed a deal to end its £50m commitment for the regional fire control “white elephant” in Cambridgeshire – nearly two years after negotiations started.

A police helicopter was involved in a search which continues this morning for a motorist involved in a single-vehicle crash in Suffolk last night.

James Blunt and Plan B have joined this year’s Newmarket Nights line-up.

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