Plans for huge solar farm 'seriously flawed' say council leaders

Agricultural land near Parham could become a solar farm. Stock photo

The Sunnica solar farm would power 100,000 homes - Credit: GETTY IMAGES/HEMERA

Plans for the UK's largest solar farm are "unacceptable" and "seriously flawed" in their current format and cannot be supported, says Suffolk County Council.

The 2,792-acre Sunnica solar farm project - which would power 100,000 homes - is proposed for land in West Suffolk and East Cambridgeshire.

The plans are currently with the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) and a six-month public examination procedure is due to start in the spring.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet will discuss its initial submission to PINS on March 1 and papers drawn up for the meeting say it is impossible for the Government to fully evaluate the significance and degree of the impact of the site because several key assessments are inadequate.

Councillor Richard Rout, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and environment, said: “Suffolk County Council is totally committed to renewable energy and it plays a key role in our climate change pledge.

“However, this commitment cannot come at any cost. Each project must be reasoned and considered. We will always examine the scale of the project and the impact it may have on those who live nearby.

“Unfortunately, we cannot support this solar farm because the size of the development hasn’t been justified and the fact that the planning application is seriously flawed. Amongst many things, it fails to assess the full range of harm to the landscape and surrounding area. If consented, Sunnica will permanently change the character of a unique part of Suffolk which has been shaped by agriculture and horse racing.”

Most Read

PINS will in due course make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, who will make the final decision.

Along with overall concerns about the scale of the development, the county council also raises issues including the land use, transport, and the impact on the community.

The solar farm would be split into three separate sites, with Sunnica East located close to Worlington and Freckenham, near Red Lodge, Sunnica West A at Chippenham, near Newmarket, and Sunnica West B at Snailwell, also near Newmarket.

Sunnica has said there is an overwhelming need for the UK to increase its use of renewable and clean energy to combat climate change and enhance energy security.