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Public inquiry called on plans for large solar farm near Beccles

PUBLISHED: 10:05 05 April 2013 | UPDATED: 10:05 05 April 2013

How the proposed solar farm at Ellough may look like.

How the proposed solar farm at Ellough may look like.

Archant

A decision on whether one of the largest solar farms in the country can be built on the outskirts of Beccles will now be taken at a public inquiry.

Earlier this year a plan by Lark Energy to install 101,640 photovoltaic panels to generate up to 30MW of power at land at Ellough was rejected by Waveney District Council’s development control committee.

But in the past few days the company has lodged an appeal against the refusal and a Government inspector will now hold an inquiry to decide if the application should go ahead. No date or venue has yet been set.

The solar farm would cover 46 hectares of land bordering Benacre Road, Copland Way and Ellough Park Raceway, with Ellough Wood and Hulver Road.

The parish councils of Worlingham, Ellough, Mutford and Henstead all raised objections about the solar farm plan with concerns about the visual impact, road infrastructure and proximity to the airfield.

Objector Stephen Basey-Fisher, of Warrens Farm, said he was disappointed that Lark Energy had decided to appeal as it showed the company had “utter disregard” for the rural landscape, local community and the democratic decision.

“We will vigorously fight this at the public inquiry as it clearly goes against planning policy and is overdevelopment that would set a precedent of removing prime agricultural land within a beautiful rural setting of the Hundred River Valley.

“It annoys us Lark Energy have re-submitted a scaled-down application saying they were reacting to the views of the local population and council when in reality it shows their contempt and only real interest which is financial gain,” said Mr Basey-Fisher.

Mr Basey-Fisher urged anyone with a view on the application to make their opinions known as soon as possible.

“If anyone is against the proposal and would like to discuss it further they can contact elloughsolar@gmail.com” he said.

When the proposal was discussed by district councillors in February, members of the development control committee refused the application because it would “have a significant visual impact which would adversely affect the character of the area”.

Committee chairman Peter Coghill said: “We have a duty to protect the landscape, in particular we have a duty to protect the river valley in the authority area.

“It is a particularly beautiful site. It is a precious commodity.”

Lark Energy have not commented on the reasons they have decided to appeal the committee decision.

Last year the company held a public exhibition of their plans in Beccles which had received a “positive” reaction.

A company spokesman said they had been “disappointed” at the committee’s refusal and still believed there was a “significant opportunity” for a solar farm at Ellough.

All comments made at the original application will be sent to the planning inspectorate but any additional comments must be sent in triplicate to: The Case Officer, The Planning Inspectorate, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN (quoting reference number APP/T3535/A/13/2193543).

All comments have to be received by April 25, 2013.

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