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Tattingstone: Residents have their say on controversial 90-acre solar farm plan

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 April 2014

Aerial shot of the proposed solar farm area in Tattingstone.

Aerial shot of the proposed solar farm area in Tattingstone.

Archant

Angry residents have criticised proposals to build what would be one of the biggest solar farms in the UK – arguing it would create an “alien” industrial complex in a Suffolk village.

Campaigners fighting against the plans for the more than 90-acre solar farm in Tattingstone, near Ipswich, said in yesterday’s appeal inquiry that they had the backing of the “overwhelming” majority of the community.

Babergh District Council dismissed the plans last June despite officers recommending approval. But the developer, Hive Energy, has appealed that decision and taken the council to the inquiry.

Objectors to the solar farm, earmarked for land off Coxhall Road, claim the number of tourists to the area would be affected – therefore harming businesses. They also argue criminals would be attracted to the village because of the value of the almost 43,000 solar panels and equipment which would be on the site.

Yesterday’s meeting at Stutton Community Hall gave residents a chance to have their say on the plans.

Steve Kirk said: “To me it is unimaginable that this beautiful piece of the Suffolk landscape could be turned into a large industrial site surrounded by a high fence and CCTV more suited to one of Her Majesty’s prisons.”

Stephen Solley said the artist John Constable was in Tattingstone from July to October 1814. “This is a key heritage asset. It would be sacrilegious to put an industrial complex on this site, so that my young grandchildren will never see the land as Constable surely saw it.”

But Keith Herod, a former councillor, defended the plans. He said that one argument – that high-grade agricultural land should not be used for solar farms – was invalid as it could not be applied in last year’s decision because the then planning policy failed to include it.

He said: “I have to start off by saying that the officers passed this and the development committee voted against it. I want to point out that this is not unusual – the committee are quite maverick in their decision making.”

Janet White also spoke out in support of the solar farm. She said “urgent action” was needed on climate change.

“I feel the overriding consideration in relation of the proposals for the solar park in Tattingstone must be the urgent action which is needed,” she said.

David Hardy is a solicitor representing Hive Energy. He said on the issue of the solar farm attracting less visitors to the nearby reservoir Alton Water: “It has to be to the point that it deters people from coming, not just that they are having a worse experience – if they lower their heads when they pass the site, if that’s how they feel. It’s not credible to say that people would be deterred to coming if there was a sheltered solar farm.”

The inquiry will continue on Tuesday from 9.30am.

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