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Hacheston: Solar farm appeal rejected as Eric Pickles backs Suffolk Coastal’s decision to dismiss proposals for 127-acre site

PUBLISHED: 20:18 23 May 2014 | UPDATED: 20:18 23 May 2014

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.

Archant

An appeal to overturn a decision to throw out proposals for one of Europe’s biggest solar farms to be built in a Suffolk village has been rejected.

Suffolk Coastal District Council waged a long campaign defending its refusal to allow green energy firm Hive Energy permission to go ahead with the 25 megawatt (mW) project across 127 acres of farmland at Hacheston, near Framlingham.

And today it emerged Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.

Bob Snell, chairman of Suffolk Coastal’s development management committee, welcomed the news, saying the authority had a “duty” to protect the area’s environment and heritage.

However, Julian Pertwee, business development director at Hive Energy, claimed the rejection was a “very big disappointment” for green energy, admitting it was “unlikely” the company will seek another appeal.

Objectors argued the land was still fertile and should continue to be used for agricultural production.

Concerns were also raised about risk of flooding caused by existing drainage pipes under the field being destroyed to make way for the photovoltaic panels.

Hive Energy insisted the application was in line with local and national planning policy, and that the site was not considered an environmentally “sensitive” area. They said it met the Government’s policy for presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The 56-page report confirming the appeal rejection said: “The proposed development is the wrong scheme in the wrong location.

“The evidence demonstrates that the adverse effects of this scheme comprehensively outweigh the benefit that arises from increased renewable energy generation.

“It has also been shown that this scheme is poorly thought through; its effects only partially assessed; and no alternatives considered.

“Local and national policy recognises the need for solar energy; but it is also clear that such schemes can be accommodated in England without the need for the significant adverse effects that arise from this proposal.”

Mr Snell said Suffolk Coastal encourages “well thought-out development in the district, but not at any price”.

He said: “We have a duty to protect our area’s unique environment and heritage.

“We felt that the suggested solar park conflicted with the Local Plan and would also have an adverse impact on the landscape in this rural area, as well as a negative impact on the nearby Parham Old Hall which is a listed building.”

Mr Pertwee said: “There was no Environmental Impact Assessment required and we were expecting to win the appeal, so it is a very big disappointment for green energy.

“We have 17 sites across the UK but have had no success in Suffolk. It is very sad. It is unlikely we will make a further appeal.”

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