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Wix: Planners back solar farm scheme

PUBLISHED: 20:00 21 April 2014 | UPDATED: 20:00 21 April 2014

Archant

Plans for a solar farm in north Essex have been tipped for approval.

Kinetica Solar Limited wants to build the solar panel array on farm land off Spinnels Lane in Wix.

Although the exact number of panels is yet to be the determined, the site would generate an estimated 13.5 megawatts at its peak, enough to supply around 3,400 homes annually.

The plans have attracted strong opposition from more than 150 residents who are concerned about the impact it will have on the surrounding countryside.

Both Wrabness and Wix parish councils have objected to the scheme, and the Harwich Society has raised fears it “would detract from the rural character of the area”.

Matthew Patten, district councillor for the area, called in the application citing concerns if all four applications for solar farms in his ward are approved it would represent a loss of 10% of the farmland in the ward.

Proposals for another solar farm at nearby Wix Lodge have already been given the go-ahead.

However planning officers at Tendring District Council have recommended the proposal is approved.

A report into the plans states the National Planning Policy Framework, the latest government guidance on planning, says “even if a proposal provides no local benefits, the energy produced should be considered a national benefit that can be shared by all communities and therefore this national benefit should be given significant weight”.

The proposal also allows for livestock to graze on the farm while the panels are in place allowing for some agricultural use to continue, even though it is currently used for crop production.

If given the green light the farm will run for 25 years, and archaeological works to check for potential finds at the site will need to be carried out before installation can begin.

It will take up to 20 weeks to build the site, and once it shuts down the company will be responsible for decommissioning the site and removing all of the panels.

Councillors on the planning committee will make a final decision on the plans on Tuesday, April 29.

The meeting takes place at the council offices in Thorpe Road, Weeley, from 6pm.

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