Local councils have their say on plans for huge solar panel farm

A solar panel farm has been proposed for land in Somersham, Suffolk. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

A solar panel farm has been proposed for land in Somersham, Suffolk. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Parish councils have had their say on plan to build a huge solar panel farm in the Suffolk countryside.

Enso Energy are planning to build a 49.9MW solar farm and battery storage facility on land south of Church Farm, Somersham, Ipswich, which it says could power up to 13,000 homes.

The plans are in an early stage of development and a formal application is yet to be made.

However, an application to see if a formal environmental impact assessment (EIA) is needed for the project has been submitted allowing the local parish councils to put forward their initial view on the designs.

The plans have received a mixed response from the four Parish Councils which have been consulted.

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Following a meeting on October 7, Somersham Parish Council said they are “broadly supportive” of the plans.

The council said: “Some concern was expressed about the effect on wildlife and the visual environment of the fencing surrounding elements of the site, and the “corridors” that would be created by the fencing.”

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“Parish Councillors will take a close interest in all aspects of the detail of the plan as it is developed over the coming weeks.”

Elmsett parish Council said that it “supports” renewable energy but added that councillors have “concerns” over the size and locations of the proposals.

However, Flowton Parish Council said that they have consulted every home in the parish after being made aware of the plans.

They said that the parish is “totally against” the proposal which they say would almost “surround the village”.

Meanwhile, Burstall Parish Council elected not to comment on the plans and instead asked for an environmental impact assessment to take place.

They also asked for the assessment to go further in its scope focussing on loss of habitat, wildlife corridors and visual impact.

Ian Harding, Director at Enso Energy said: “Our ongoing community consultation process is enabling the development team to reflect on the received local feedback and look at ways we can address the issues raised by residents, including those we have met with on-site.

“The design of the scheme is being revisited with a view to reducing impacts wherever possible including investigating greater setback distances from people’s homes, greater screening and habitat creation opportunities and construction access options.

“We’re undertaking detailed assessment work to further inform the design with our aim being to create a scheme that has listened and responded to local concerns and is sensitive towards and compatible with the local landscape and environment.

“ We continue to respond to queries from the local community and share information about the project.

“In due course the scheme will be submitted for planning permission and there will be a further opportunity for the community to make their views known having had the opportunity to read thorough our robust planning application and environmental impact reports.”

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