Great Glemham: 75-acre solar farm bid revealed

SUFFOLK’S coveted status as the UK’s Greenest County has taken another step towards fulfilment following news of proposals to develop a 75-acre solar farm near Saxmundham.

The intended location, at Great Glemham Farms, is just a few miles from the proposed site of a solar farm twice its size in Hacheston.

Green energy firm AGRenewables will begin public consultation next week, with an exhibition of plans for the 15 megawatt capacity project on farmland, part of the former Parham Airfield, one kilometre south of Great Glemham village.

A formal submission for planning consent is due to be made later in the summer, with developers keen to consider public feedback in the meantime.

If constructed, the proposed solar farm would generate up to 15.135MWh of low carbon electricity each year - enough to power the equivalent of 4,586 average UK households.

AGRenewables already has a 5MW solar farm on a brown field site in Kent and hopes to provide employment here in Suffolk with long-term maintenance contracts.

A public exhibition will be held between 4pm and 8pm on August 1, at Great Glemham Village Hall, Low Road, where representatives from Great Glemham Farms and AGRenewables will answer questions, and present detailed visualisations and information.

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Argus Hardy, of Great Glemham Farms, said: “The exhibition will be a good opportunity for the local community to come along and view the plans and ask any questions they may have. All of the feedback we receive will be considered before we finalise our proposals and submit a planning application later this summer.

“Great Glemham Farms has a long history of focusing on environmental projects and I see the solar farm as furthering the work we do to encourage sustainable ways of working and biodiversity in the local area.”

The announcement comes as public consultation comes to an end in nearby Hacheston, where plans to develop a 150-acre solar farm have provoked objection from a number of villagers and local representatives including Suffolk MP Dan Poulter.

There, developers Hive Energy propose laying a wildflower meadow and say low level solar panels will still allow the field to be used for grazing and agriculture during the park’s 25-year life - but villagers argue the land should be kept for arable production.

Similarly, at Great Glemham Farms, the plan is to keep some of the land for farming. Mr Hardy added: “We have looked at the solar farm proposal as an opportunity not only to engage with a locally important renewables scheme, but also to create a large area of grazed clay grassland between the panels, with a buffer strip of hedge and scrub that ties in with our existing nature conservation projects, particularly our work with nesting and feeding opportunities for bird life.”

The proposed site is divided by a County Wildlife Reserve, which Mr Argus’ grandfather and father developed from the old runway strip on the airfield.

The land would continue to be managed over the lifetime of the project and AGRenewables has adapted its design to allow the farm’s own Alde Valley Flock to graze the area between and under the panels.

For anyone unable to attend the exhibition, presentation boards will be available to view on the project website from August 2, and comments can be made until August 15.

More information on the proposal can be found on the project website

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