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Ingham: Councillors to decide tomorrow on plans for solar farm in countryside

12:07 05 February 2014

Site for Ingham solar farm application.

Site for Ingham solar farm application.

Archant

A solar farm in the countryside near Ingham, which has been met with over-riding opposition from the community, has been recommended for approval by council officers.

Gamma Solar Ltd’s plans for the land north-west of Thetford Road have been met with 63 letters of objection as well as a petition against the proposal with 201 names, as at January 21, an officers’ report said.

The solar farm would be made up of about 108,000 solar panels, with the array and associated buildings in 91.83 acres of land, and would be for a period of 30 years.

There would also be access tracks and a 2.5m-high security fence around the whole site.

The officers’ report said electricity generated by the solar farm would power about 5,520 local homes, which amounts to 12.1% of the households in the borough. The proposed savings in annual emissions of carbon dioxide would be about 11,200 tonnes.

A St Edmundsbury Borough Council committee is due to decide on the plans, which are recommended for approval, tomorrow.

Gamma Solar Ltd has made a number of revisions to its proposal following feedback from residents, which it said it “very much hopes” had addressed people’s concerns, but many still feel strongly the solar farm would spoil the attractiveness of the rural setting.

The officers’ report said Ingham Parish Council had maintained its objection, saying of the latest plans: “It appears as if Gamma Solar have taken on board the huge visual impact that their industrial facility will have on the Suffolk landscape and are now in overdrive in their attempts to find some means of justifying this eyesore.” The firm proposes planting to mitigate against the solar farm’s impact on the visual character of the landscape, but the parish council said it would take many years to achieve the desired screening effect.

The officers’ report said the proposal remained a “finely balanced matter,” and involved assessing the “intrinsic harm” of the array and the shorter term harm as landscaping matures against the benefits of renewable energy and the planting.

Eighteen letters were received in support of the proposal as at January 21.

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