Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 15°C

ESTD 1874 Search

The pigs have arrived. See the latest

Pigs Gone Wild

news here.

Suffolk/Essex: Solar bid on prime farmland rejected

08:37 01 May 2014

Archant

Communities on the Suffolk and Essex border are celebrating after a controversial proposal to build a solar farm on 42 acres of prime agricultural land was refused by the district authority.

Parish councils in the villages of Foxearth, Liston, Pentlow, Belchamp St Paul and Belchamp Otten, just over the border from Sudbury, banded together to form a joint committee to campaign against solar farm applications from at least three different developers.

Their bid to stop up to 300 acres of Grade II arable land in the area from being swamped by solar panels attracted national attention, and local MP Brooks Newmark raised the issue in Parliament.

One of the biggest schemes, submitted to Braintree District Council by Sovereign Energy, was for a 42-acre solar farm at Big Deere Lodge Field between Pentlow and Belchamp St Paul. The scheme, intended to connect to the national grid via the Belchamp St Paul substation, was for around 25,000 solar panels capable of generating sufficient electricity for an estimated 2,275 homes.

Last October, the parish councils held a public meeting in Foxearth attended by more than 80 concerned parishioners ahead of a scheduled planning committee meeting to decide the fate of the proposal. But they have now been informed the application has been refused without going before the committee.

Officers were able to make the decision under delegated powers because the council received 79 letters against the scheme but none in support.

In the council’s refusal notice, officers said the proposed development involved the use of a greenfield site which is predominantly “Grade II and Grade IIIa” and therefore categorised as being “best and most versatile agricultural land.”

Last night district councillor Julian Finch – who has fought a long battle against the solar farms alongside the campaigners – said he was pleased they had won a reprieve, which he believes is due to new Government guidance relating to solar farms and agricultural land.

He said: “The Government has become a lot stricter on this matter, and that is why Braintree planning officers felt they had to refuse the application.

“Solar is an amazing idea if it’s in the right place but the new guidance could be the death knell for large scale solar farms on the best and most versatile agricultural land.”

Essex County Council leader David Finch, from Borley near Sudbury, said turning down the application was the right thing to do, but there was still an opportunity for the applicants to appeal.

“I am pleased with this first step but we need to make sure it is not going ahead in the future,” he said.

Sovereign Energy could appeal against the decision. Last night, no-one from the company was available to comment.

1 comment

  • I'm so glad the solar bid has been turned down. I re-visited Belchamp St Paul once again in March this year , after a 46 year gap, and the place was still as lovely as in 1968 when I was a student at "Belchamp St Pauls Tutorial Establishment" -run by Cannon Powell in what is now The Mulberry Tree(?). There are a few changes to the village, but the area is still as lovely as ever and the thought of a solar farm is beyond comprehension.

    Report this comment

    Mark

    Friday, May 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Stock image of the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

A boy has been airlifted to hospital following a collision in Witham this evening.

Mark Bee and George Nobbs at Beccles bridge in 2013 - both former leaders voted against the devolution deal.

Suffolk’s councils have done their bit on approving the government’s devolution proposals – but the decision on whether to proceed remains up in the air.

The B1035 Clacton Road in Horsley Cross is closed after a collision involving a lorry and a car.

A man has died following a crash between a lorry and a car in Horsley Cross, near Manningtree.

Tattingstone village sign.

A reward of up to £5,000 has been offered following a “horrendous crime” in a Suffolk village in which pensioner was assaulted.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train at Colchester

Passenger satisfaction levels in the region’s rail operator have dropped in key areas including value for money and punctuality, a new poll has revealed.

David Silver has opened a new museum in Leiston housing an amazing collection of historic Honda motorcycles. James May and Freddie Spencer officially opened the museum.

Motorcycle lovers with special affection for a certain manufacturer relished the chance to explore a unique collection unveiled in Suffolk.

A man police would like to speak to following three alleged fraud incidents in Ipswich

Suffolk police officers have released an image of a man they would like to speak to following three incidents of alleged fraud in Ipswich.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24