Solar farm application sent to Suffolk planners

Field at Flowton

One of the fields which could become a solar farm at Flowton. - Credit: Paul Geater

A formal planning application has been lodged with both Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils for a controversial new solar farm to be developed near Flowton, a few miles from Ipswich.

The application has been lodged by Enso energy through its subsidiary company, Bramford Green Limited - and aims to generate enough electricity to power up to 13,000 homes.

Enso has control of 252 acres of land near Flowton - about two thirds of the site is in the Mid Suffolk district and a third is in Babergh.

Although planning committees from both councils will have to discuss the application, the reports will be prepared by the same planning officers - as the authorities share staff.

Flowton poster

There is local opposition to the proposed solar farm. - Credit: Paul Geater

Last autumn, Enso ran a virtual public consultation with residents - but that has not satisfied many of the villagers affected.

A new organisation, CARE Suffolk, has been set up to oppose the plans.

The company would use new technology to allow its solar panels to track the sun to maximise the efficiency of the operation. It would also install batteries to store power.

The solar panels would not cover the entire acreage of the application - but residents fear it would change the appearance of the area.

The company applied for permission to develop those sites because they are near to the major sub-station at Bramford, which feeds power into the National Grid.

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The company says it has taken steps to design a scheme that is sensitive towards and compatible with the local landscape and environment.

It says the proposed solar farm offers the opportunity for significant biodiversity improvements, with a 59% increase in the habitat biodiversity value of the site, and a 147% increase in the hedgerow biodiversity.

Flowton field

Enso says its proposals would improve biodiversity. - Credit: Paul Geater

Sheep would graze beneath the panels and the existing hedgerows and trees on site will be retained, protected and enhanced through positive management, infill planting and wildflower habitats planted throughout the area away from the sheep grazing areas.

Ian Harding, director at Enso Energy said: “We’ve got to change the way we make energy in the UK.

"Our application follows Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils’ declarations of a climate emergency, and the local and national climate change targets that are enshrined in law.

"We’re determined to use the latest solar technology to make a positive impact on the country and communities we work with.

"That’s why our proposals make use of innovative tracker technology, allowing the proposed site to generate 20-25% more energy than traditional solar farms”.

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk and Babergh, which shares a joint administration, said the application was expected to be discussed by the two planning committees during the spring.