Protest called by anti-solar farm campaign before crunch meeting

Protest by Ardleigh and Great Bromley residents in May 2014 against solar farm plans

Protest by Ardleigh and Great Bromley residents in May 2014 against solar farm plans - Credit: Archant

A last-ditch protest is being planned by residents of two north Essex villages against plans for a solar farm.

Vogt Solar want to create a 40 acre solar farm at Burnt Heath, between Ardleigh and Great Bromley, off Chancery Farm Park Road.

Members of Tendring District Council’s planning committee are due to rule on the plans during a meeting tomorrow evening.

Planning officers at the authority have recommended the proposals are approved.

Villagers from the area surrounding the proposed site are urging people to voice their opposition to the scheme by email in advance.

A protest has also been called outside the meeting, at Clacton Town Hall at 6pm, in a last minute plea to committee members.

Tim Rose, Ardleigh Solar Plant Protest Group spokesman, said the plan was against Government policy which promotes commercial solar installations on rooftop and brownfield sites rather than on green fields.

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Mr Rose said: “Almost all campaigners are pro-solar, but it is a question of where the panels are installed.

“In this case, the chosen site is prime agricultural land in a flat, open landscape with many long established homes on three of its sides.

“Officers have already recommended it is approved – it is therefore vital that the many people who care about our rural communities turn out in force to make their voices heard.

“If this plan is allowed to go ahead it will set a strong precedent for a solar installation anywhere.”

A protest was staged last year by more than 70 campaigners when proposals were first put forward.

Campaigners also fear if permission is granted Vogt Solar will apply to expand into adjacent fields.

Planning officers say although there would be limited harm to the countryside and potential harm to archaeological remains, the localised extent of this does not outweigh the national benefit of providing renewable energy.

If given the go-ahead the scheme would power 3,000 homes over its 30-year life.

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