Objections over plans for solar farm as big as 90 football pitches

Solar panels

Agricultural land near Parham could become a solar farm. Stock photo - Credit: GETTY IMAGES/HEMERA

Objections have been lodged over proposals for a large solar farm in the heart of the Suffolk countryside which would generate enough power to run 16,000 homes.

Low Carbon Solar Park 3 Ltd has submitted plans for the project near New Road East, Silverlace Green, near Parham.

The B-17 Solar Farm would occupy 182 acres comprising a handful of fields - equal to around 90 football pitches.

East Suffolk Council is currently considering the application for consent for the project, which would generate up to 49.9 MW, enough to power approximately 16,581 homes and an anticipated CO2 displacement of around 11,210 tonnes per annum.

Marlesford Parish Council has objected saying the solar farm "would dramatically change our local rural scene for the worse", with worries about large hedges that would be needed to hide the panels from view, and also the impact of construction traffic.

Great Glemham Parish Council has objected to the proposal in its current form. The council, which in the past has supported similar projects in the area and believes renewable energy would be appropriate at the location, has voiced concerns over community consultation, the detail and quality of the information provided and "the overall scale of the proposal in relation to its impact on the wider landscape".

Suffolk Wildlife Trust has lodged a holding objection until more information is available about the removal of some hedges to make way for cabling and the impact on wildlife, and also details of landscaping proposals.

It says further surveys are needed to assess the impact on nearby great crested newts, breeding birds and bats.

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But Parham Parish Council supports the project subject to further negotiations with the developers, particularly over potential community benefits.

AECOM, on behalf of Low Carbon, said the solar park would take 16 weeks to build and during its operation - expected to last 40 years - it would only generate four two-way car/van trips per week for maintenance. Cabling would be underground to a substation near Parham.

AECOM said: "It is intended that the site would be retained in agricultural use for the life of the proposed development; land between and underneath panels could be used for sheep grazing and/or planting a combination of grassland and meadows."

The developers also wanted to keep all trees and hedgerows, and to increase biodiversity, such as planting of wildflower meadows and the introduction of beehives.Additional hedgerow planting would provide new green corridors for wildlife and there was also scope for landscape, ecological and biodiversity benefits through the installation of barn owl boxes, bird nesting boxes, log piles, restoration of traditional field boundaries, and other hibernacula such as small buried rubble piles suitable for reptile species, amphibians and insect life.