A controversial solar farm will be built across two Suffolk villages as long-debated proposals were given the go-ahead by a council.

Cross-boundary plans were originally submitted to Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils in December 2020 for the installation of a solar farm on land south of Church Farm in Somersham and east of The Channel in Burstall.

The plans were approved by Babergh District Council, but were refused by Mid Suffolk District Council in February, prompting applicant Bramford Green Limited to appeal.

Mid Suffolk District Council did not wish to defend the reasons for refusal and, on August 29, the appeal was allowed by inspector Mr Cullum Parker who also ordered the council to pay Bramford Green Limited the costs of the appeal proceedings.

The applicant also submitted a Free Go application to Mid Suffolk District Council in May, which officers recommended for approval and, on September 14, this was given the green light.

The 102-hectare site, comprising of six agricultural fields in Somersham and Burstall, will now see the installation of a renewable energy generating station with ground-mounted solar panels and battery-based electricity storage containers.

Grid connection cable corridors will link the two sites to the Bramford Substation.

The plans will see the site undergo a 40-year change of use from agriculture to solar farm, and after this it will be reinstated as farmland.

There is also the potential for low intensity sheep grazing amongst the solar panels.

In June, Burstall parish councillor Samantha Main said she believed the application went against the Local Development Plan for the area and called for an end to the proposals.

"The issues with the actual solar farm itself is that it is on high grade agricultural land in a designated special landscape area. It's a high value landscape and should be protected under the local plan," she said.

"We would prefer to see it used for agriculture and towards our food sufficency. We would rather see solar panels on roofs and properties in the built up areas."

Bramford, Burstall, Flowton, Little Blakenham, Somersham and Sproughton parish councils all objected to the plans. 

In a planning statement, the applicant said: "There is an urgent requirement for the proposed development; it is entirely suitable to the site and its surroundings; it accords with national and local planning policy and all relevant material planning considerations; and will deliver significant environmental benefits."

Construction at the site will now take place between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am and 1pm on Saturday. No work should take place on Sundays or Bank Holidays.