April 18 2015 Latest news:
Thursday, April 24, 2014
An energy firm today quizzed council officials over a decision to reject an application for a controversial solar farm in the Suffolk countryside.
In June of last year, members of Babergh District Council unanimously voted to reject plans for a solar park on 94 acres of farmland at Tattingstone, near Ipswich - despite officers recommending it for approval.
This led to the company behind the proposals, Hive Energy, launching an appeal, resulting in the ongoing public inquiry.
Councillors felt the benefits of the renewable energy produced by the solar farm would not outweigh the harm caused by the loss of valuable agricultural land, which is currently being used to grow oil seed rape.
They also feared the volume of panels would blight the landscape.
Today, at the second day of the public inquiry at Stutton Community Hall, lawyers representing Hive Energy questioned Babergh’s core strategy and planning framework that led to the decision.
The district council was asked how the harm of the project outweighed the benefits, while its core strategy used to reject the decision was scrutinised, including what scarce resources were being taken by the solar farm being built.
The council was also pressed as to why the project was seen as intrusive, and even though the landscape would be maintained by Hive Energy, a requirement in the strategy and framework, the decision was still refused.
The council was also asked whether they thought the project was a large scale scheme.
The representative for Babergh said views to Alton Water would be spoilt, and the bridleway on Coxhall Road, which backs onto the proposed site, would be affected.
They added the scheme was unacceptable in the public interest, which is why it was refused, and that the harm from the proposal was “significant”.
They also said that the area was not the right site for the solar farm, and that such a development on that site was seen as a “permanent loss”.
The inquiry continues.