Campaign against two more solar farms gathers strength in Suffolk villages
- Credit: Paul Geater
Villagers living in rural communities near Ipswich are coming together in a bid to stop the development of two new "solar farms" which are planned to take up hundreds of acres of Suffolk countryside.
The solar farms have been proposed for sites near Flowton and Bramford - their locations have been chosen because they are near the Bramford electricity sub-station so the power they generate can easily be plugged into the national grid.
They are being proposed by two separate companies. Enso Energy wants to put solar panels on two different sites in Flowton and EDF Renewables plans to put panels on a huge field beside Tye Lane between Bramford and Bramford Tye.
The total size of the Enso site is 252 acres - although not all would be covered by solar panels and the company says it does intend to create "green corridors" for wildlife that lives in the area.
The EDF Renewables site is 202 acres, of which 161 could be developed as a solar farm.
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CARE Suffolk (Community Alliance for a Rural Environment), a group of local residents and experts, has called for the schemes to be abandoned.
CARE Suffolk Chair Samantha Main said: "We support renewable energy but these schemes add little to UK energy supply while causing unacceptable environmental damage and undermining food supply.
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"Worst of all, the power grid in East Anglia is already oversupplied and can only use the small amounts of power produced by lowering generation from wind farms. The scheme is madness - we are putting steel and glass on fields that we need to grow food, ruining areas important for leisure and tourism."
She feared for the wildlife, including deer and many species of birds that can be seen in the area.
Enso Energy has submitted a planning application for the development to both Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils for its solar farm.
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”.
Andrew King Director at Enso Energy added: “Now more than ever It’s crucial that local communities are able to see and shape planning applications that may have an impact on them. That’s why we invited the local community to safely have their say online via our webinar and website, as well as via our local resident brochure that was distributed by post.”
EDF Renewables Development Manager Darren Cuming said: “This is a good place for a solar site because it is suitably sunny and has a nearby grid connection.
"The project will enable us to contribute to the UK’s green economic recovery from COVID-19 and help the country reach its net zero targets.
"We consulted far and wide during our six-week consultation, and had the opportunity to engage with community representatives, councillors, and members of the public, during parish council and public meetings.
"We received lots of valuable feedback and we intend to incorporate much of this into our final plans for Tye Lane solar farm."
He said existing trees and hedgerows would screen most of the solar panels from view and we will enhance the biodiversity on site by planting more as well as grass and wild flowers.
It also plans to install bee hives at the site. The land is currently farmed and can continue to be farmed with enough room underneath and between the panels for sheep grazing.