Solar farm the size of 90 football pitches to power 16,000 homes

Solar panels

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

Community leaders are being asked permission 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.

Advanced consultation was held with residents in the area to gauge their views and also various bodies - including Parham, Marlesford, Hacheston, Great Glemham and Little Glemham parish councils - as well as members of East Suffolk Council and the MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich Dan Poulter.

Documents submitted to planners at East Suffolk Council say that 67% of those who responded to the consultation were in favour of the proposals.

The majority of comments received were in relation to local ecology and bird life, visual impact and traffic and construction. There was support for environmental initiatives contained within the solar farm proposals.

AECOM, on behalf of Low Carbon, said: "The solar panels 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."

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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. 

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