Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Residents’ concerns about a multi-million pound solar farm have not been allayed despite the company behind the plans holding an open meeting with protesters, says a prominent councillor.
After facing criticism of its renewable energy plans for Baylham, near Needham Market, Eco Energy World decided to organise a meeting to open up dialogue between residents and the firm.
The Baylham Parish Meeting, English Heritage and the Suffolk Preservation Society all voiced strong concerns over the proposed development.
John Field, chairman of the parish meeting and county councillor for Bramford and Blakenham, said the concerns were persisting. He also claimed that Eco Energy World had proposed to give the community about £50,000 for a fund to be used in the village if the plans are accepted.
He said: “I think they were trying to be informative and they had a number of people there who were trying to convince the village what they are trying to do is acceptable.
“I think we still believe it’s not right trying to use grade-two agricultural land for this, they’ve referred to it as relatively low-grade agricultural land but there’s little grade-one land in the country, let alone in Suffolk.”
A spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of Eco Energy World and SunEdison, which is also behind the project, said: “We were delighted that so many people chose to come and see the proposals, and grateful for all the feedback received, including suggestions for how potential community benefit funding could be spent.
“Eco Energy World, in partnership with SunEdison, has modified the original Hive Energy proposals, for a 10MW solar farm, and is now proposing an 8.5MW project.
“This is enough energy to meet the average energy needs of at least 1,800 homes. As a result of the reduction in the scheme size, the panel arrays have been pulled away from the public footpath running through the centre of the site and from the boundaries, and a significant amount of additional landscaping has been proposed.”
But Mr Field said a few homes would be surrounded on at least three sides by the solar farm if the proposals are agreed to. Eco Energy World said the solar farm would be “well-screened” from homes and would have “attractive” planted boundaries.
Mid Suffolk District Council is expected to make a decision on the scheme next month. The plans were initially withdrawn to be revised.