Developers of large solar farms in Suffolk risk neglecting the views of the residents who live here, says the council leader responsible for the environment.

The energy developers who bring forward energy projects in the county without speaking to councils or communities they will impact have been criticised by councillor Richard Rout, the deputy leader of Suffolk County Council and cabinet member for finance and the environment.

The comments followed the National Grid’s latest publication of the Transmission Entry Capacity (TEC) Register, which is a list of projects that have the right to connect to the National Grid’s network.

The list shows that new projects have been offered connections at National Grid sites in Suffolk.

These include sites at Bramford and Yaxley. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr Rout's comments follow the National Grid's latest publication.Cllr Rout's comments follow the National Grid's latest publication. (Image: Suffolk County Council)

Cllr Rout said it is “shocking and disappointing” that the council and residents are finding out about proposals for the first time on a list.

Cllr Rout said: “In my view, this treats the opinions of local people, and their council representatives, with contempt and is a terrible way to begin projects of this nature.

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“Any of these projects, if they do come forward and are submitted to the planning inspectorate for planning permission, have serious implications for local people, our county's infrastructure, our agricultural capacity and heritage, not to mention our precious natural environment and wildlife habitats.

“Suffolk County Council readily understands and accepts the extent and magnitude of the infrastructure required to deliver national energy independence.

“However, food security is equally important, and we have grave concerns about taking vast swathes of high-quality agricultural land out of food production for solar farms.

"It is absolutely critical that projects, like those emerging for the first time today, are handled in the right way and treat local people with the respect they deserve.

“Any attempt to sneak projects through the back door or avoid early meaningful engagement with communities is simply not good enough, and I will continue to call it out when I see it happening.”

Developers can now put forward projects under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) programme.

Large-scale developments will be considered by central government rather than councils under the scheme.