Parham: Green light for solar farm at old airfield

Argus Hardy from Great Glemham Farms and Ag renewables project manager Imran Sheikh with the visuali

Argus Hardy from Great Glemham Farms and Ag renewables project manager Imran Sheikh with the visualisations of the proposed solar farms on show at Great Glemham Village Hall, Low Road, Great Glemham - Credit: Andrew Partridge

WORK is set to begin on a 75-acre solar farm at the edge of a Suffolk village.

A district planning committee gave the green-light for construction to start on the 15megawatt (MW) capacity project on farmland at the former Parham Airfield, one kilometre south-west of Great Glemham.

The application was deferred at a Suffolk Coastal development meeting on January 23 to allow councillors to visit an operational solar farm at Wilburton, Ely, and to get information on several other issues, including connection to the national grid, cabling and capacity. The decision was deferred for a second time the following month to allow for soil testing to be carried out at the site, but committee members yesterday agreed with the planning officer’s report recommending that the application be approved.

The proposal had been put forward by London-based AGRenewables and landowner Argus Hardy, who will lease the land to the firm for the 20-year life of the panels, which could generate enough energy annually for 4,586 average UK households and will also power a building containing grain store dryers.

The site is divided by a County Wildlife Reserve, which Mr Hardy’s grandfather and father developed from the old runway strip.

The farm is part of a larger Higher Level Stewardship scheme, supervised by Natural England for restoration and creation of wildlife habitats, and educational access.

Once installed, the farm’s Alde Valley Flock will be able graze between and under the panels.

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A new 33kilovolt (kV) electrical cable will be buried about a metre underground and connect to a substation on the site.

AGRenewables said its 5MW solar park in Aylesford, Kent, generated 5% more energy than predicted last year.

It listed a number of short-term economic benefits from the construction of the solar farm, including the use of local amenities, plant hire, hauliers and contractors.

It said hedging would come from the Botanica nursery in Campsea Ashe and that grass and seed supply would come from Walnes Seeds of Framlingham.

The application was given conditional support by Great Glemham Parish Council but received six letters of objection, mainly concerned with the visual and environmental impact of the project.

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