max temp: 12°C

min temp: 7°C


Suffolk/Essex: Solar bid on prime farmland rejected

08:37 01 May 2014


Communities on the Suffolk and Essex border are celebrating after a controversial proposal to build a solar farm on 42 acres of prime agricultural land was refused by the district authority.


Parish councils in the villages of Foxearth, Liston, Pentlow, Belchamp St Paul and Belchamp Otten, just over the border from Sudbury, banded together to form a joint committee to campaign against solar farm applications from at least three different developers.

Their bid to stop up to 300 acres of Grade II arable land in the area from being swamped by solar panels attracted national attention, and local MP Brooks Newmark raised the issue in Parliament.

One of the biggest schemes, submitted to Braintree District Council by Sovereign Energy, was for a 42-acre solar farm at Big Deere Lodge Field between Pentlow and Belchamp St Paul. The scheme, intended to connect to the national grid via the Belchamp St Paul substation, was for around 25,000 solar panels capable of generating sufficient electricity for an estimated 2,275 homes.

Last October, the parish councils held a public meeting in Foxearth attended by more than 80 concerned parishioners ahead of a scheduled planning committee meeting to decide the fate of the proposal. But they have now been informed the application has been refused without going before the committee.

Officers were able to make the decision under delegated powers because the council received 79 letters against the scheme but none in support.

In the council’s refusal notice, officers said the proposed development involved the use of a greenfield site which is predominantly “Grade II and Grade IIIa” and therefore categorised as being “best and most versatile agricultural land.”

Last night district councillor Julian Finch – who has fought a long battle against the solar farms alongside the campaigners – said he was pleased they had won a reprieve, which he believes is due to new Government guidance relating to solar farms and agricultural land.

He said: “The Government has become a lot stricter on this matter, and that is why Braintree planning officers felt they had to refuse the application.

“Solar is an amazing idea if it’s in the right place but the new guidance could be the death knell for large scale solar farms on the best and most versatile agricultural land.”

Essex County Council leader David Finch, from Borley near Sudbury, said turning down the application was the right thing to do, but there was still an opportunity for the applicants to appeal.

“I am pleased with this first step but we need to make sure it is not going ahead in the future,” he said.

Sovereign Energy could appeal against the decision. Last night, no-one from the company was available to comment.


1 comment

  • I'm so glad the solar bid has been turned down. I re-visited Belchamp St Paul once again in March this year , after a 46 year gap, and the place was still as lovely as in 1968 when I was a student at "Belchamp St Pauls Tutorial Establishment" -run by Cannon Powell in what is now The Mulberry Tree(?). There are a few changes to the village, but the area is still as lovely as ever and the thought of a solar farm is beyond comprehension.

    Report this comment


    Friday, May 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Theatre Square artists impression

Construction work to tidy up the former Civic Centre site in the heart of Ipswich – and to create a new public square in front of the New Wolsey Theatre.

The former Croydon's store in Ipswich - set to become a Jack Wills store.

One of the best-known new clothing chains in Britain is set to take over the former Croydon’s store in Ipswich’s Tavern Street.

The Kent Lodge Nursing Home.

Kent Lodge was rated inadequate by the CQC this year – one of five homes in the county to be given the rating this year

Dimitri Gayle had his bike stolen days after he got it for his Birthday. Halfords replaced the bike free of charge. Dimitri is pictured with his new bike in Ipswich.

“There are so many bad things going on in the world, it’s nice to know there are nice things that happen too.”

Users have been sharing autumnal photos of Suffolk on Instagram

With more than 300 million active users and 70 million photos posted each day, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing forms of social media.

The Reverend Anthony Howe, the new chaplain at Hampton Court Palace’s Chapel Royal.

A former Suffolk resident and pupil at Ipswich School has been appointed chaplain and priest in charge at The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace.

The cycle safety awareness event on Barrack Corner in Norwich Road has been cancelled.

Police have issued a new date for a bike safety event abruptly cancelled yesterday after officers failed to turn up.

Proposed housing site in Poplar Lane, Sproughton, behind the Holiday Inn.

Two Suffolk councils are set to lock horns over the proposed construct of 475 homes on the edge of Ipswich.

Police are at the scene

A three vehicle crash has blocked one lane of the A14 eastbound at Copdock.

Families are campaigning against the closure of the Crossroads Saturday Club for children on the autistic spectrum.

Parents have launched a campaign to re-open a Saturday club which provided support for children on the autistic spectrum in Suffolk.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages