Matt Hancock opposes plans for UK's biggest solar farm on Suffolk border

Forest Heath District Council has bought Toggam Farm solar farm, in Lakenheath.

Forest Heath District Council has bought Toggam Farm solar farm, in Lakenheath. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A vision to build the UK's biggest solar farm "goes too far", according to health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock - who has voiced his opposition to the development. 

The cabinet minister has released a statement regarding the project, which would see a 2.500 acre solar farm built on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border - more than twice the size of the next biggest planned farm in Kent.

Matt Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk and health secretary, is accused of breaching the 10p

Matt Hancock, Conservative MP for West Suffolk and health secretary - Credit: Archant

His concerns were echoed by South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer, who said the plans "risk losing vast swathes of agricultural land and open countryside". 

MORE: Fierce debate over UK’s biggest solar farm as councils demand more detail on plans

The two MPs have responded jointly to development company Sunnica’s consultation, acknowledging concerns residents have raised and setting out their objection to the project in its current form.

Sunnica said it was grateful for the politicians' feedback and would publish more details about the plans as they evolve.

Mr Hancock said: "My constituents have already shown their support towards renewable energy, in particular solar, and are keen to explore what more they can do.

"However, I share their view that this project goes too far, and is not in keeping with the nature of the local area.

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"Many of my constituents have concerns over safety, environment, and decommissioning, and I am not satisfied that these issues have been fully addressed.

"I therefore oppose Sunnica’s proposed project in its current form.”

Mrs Frazer said: “I am supportive of renewable energy and solar, and I’m proud of the contribution a number of solar farms in my constituency make in supporting the UK’s efforts to reach our net zero emissions target.  

"However, I understand the concerns residents have about the size of the project, which would be far bigger than any other solar farm in the UK and would risk losing vast swathes of agricultural land and open countryside, enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area.

"I therefore oppose the proposals as set out by Sunnica in their statutory consultation.”

Last month, both Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council called for more work to be done to establish the impacts on the local communities, environment and biodiversity.

Other questions have been posed over the archaeological impact, safety of planned lithium ion batteries to store the energy and doubt cast on the transport modelling.

A Sunnica spokesperson said: “We are grateful to Matt Hancock MP and Lucy Frazer MP for their joint response to our statutory consultation.

"Through the consultation, which remains open for responses until December 18, we have received helpful feedback from across the community.

"Following the consultation, we will have regard to all of the responses that we have received as we finalise our Development Consent Order (DCO) application and will publish further details as our proposals evolve.”

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