March 11 2014 Latest news:
by Matt Stott
Thursday, March 7, 2013
A PROPOSAL to install one of the UK’s largest solar farms in the Suffolk countryside has been met with mixed reaction – with one councillor labelling it “concerning”.
An application for a 15-18 megawatt (MW) capacity development on 94 acres of farmland in Tattingstone, near Ipswich, has been submitted to Babergh District Council for approval.
Green energy developers Hive Energy argued the site was not in an environmentally sensitive area, maintaining the future health of energy supplies should supersede concerns over landscape blemishes and lack of jobs.
But Babergh District Council councillor David Wood, who represents Tattingstone, spoke out against the plans, insisting the countryside would be spoiled and families would not see a reduction in energy bills.
Speaking after a formal consultation between Hive Energy and Tattingstone Parish Council this week, Mr Wood said: “I’m going over the planning application but I am very concerned about this development which carries such magnitude.
“Tattingstone is home to lovely landscapes and the proximity of the site to areas of outstanding natural beauty, to Alton Water, to cycle and walk paths concerns me.
“The countryside is natural rolling countryside and if it goes ahead people are going to see black glass windows.
“If they said it would reduce energy bills by half or something then it would be different, but it’s not going to be cutting bills for anybody.
“They (Hive Energy) have not paid any regard to the concerns of residents or concerns to our countryside. It’s not even going to create any jobs.
“The meeting at the village hall left more questions than answers. Residents have no idea how it is going to benefit them.”
If given the green light, the £18-£20 million construction of Valley Farm Solar Park, which would consist of 60,000-72,000 solar panels at 2.5 metres high, would take three months to build on Coxhall Road.
Between 4,500 and 5,400 homes could be powered with between 6,450 and 7,740 tonnes of CO2 emissions being prevented annually, while the farmer would continue breeding grey partridges.
Developers said trees and hedges would fully screen the view as early as three years into its 25-year lease.
Julian Pertwee, business development director at Hive Energy, said the solar farm – described as the equivalent of a dozen wind farms – was a key part of a greener future.
Mr Pertwee said: “It’s hard to say how it will affect the cost of bills but it will help contribute to the country’s renewable targets.
“In 2009 the Government set a target that 15% of our energy is to be produced from renewable sources by 2020 – but we are only at 5% today.
“We can’t guarantee jobs because it’s not a long-term project. But we are guaranteeing long-term energy supply which is extremely important. I think those benefits outweigh the lack of job creation.
“We’re doing it for people’s grandsons and it fits in with the patchwork of the countryside. It’s going to look like a lake from a distance. People won’t even know it’s there.”
Carol Tilbury, of Lemons Hill, Tattingstone, said: “I’m in favour of green energy and I think every community has a duty to investigate whether they should develop alternative energy.
“But I think the developers ought to put something back into the village because it could be a bit of an eyesore. There should be some compensation and we could do with a new village hall.”
A decision over the application is expected in late April.