Villagers to have say on bid for new Suffolk solar farm

Villagers are being invited to have their say on proposals for a 15.9 megawatt solar farm at Cookley

Villagers are being invited to have their say on proposals for a 15.9 megawatt solar farm at Cookley. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Villagers are being invited to have their say on proposals for a 15.9 megawatt solar farm to be built in their small Suffolk community.

Kinetica Solar has put forward the 68-acre project to be built on farmland at Cookley which it claims will generate power for 3,975 homes.

Consultation is under way on the scheme, which as well as 63,000 solar panels, will also include a control room, security fencing and CCTV cameras, and landscaping to screen the site from view. There would also be access improvements made from Rockstone Lane.

Cookley and Walpole Parish Council clerk Raymond Catchpole said: “Kinetica came along to present their scheme at a public meeting a few months back and answered questions from the public.

“At that stage no planning application had been submitted, so the parish council was not in a position to formally reach a decision.

“On September 16 councillors will consider the application and make their formal response.”

Mr Catchpole said the meeting at Walpole Pavilion would be a normal meeting open to the public, and there will be a public participation time with an opportunity for people to give views on the scheme at Hill Farm and the councillors would take these into account when reaching their decision.

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He stressed that residents should also give their views – whether for or against the development – to Suffolk Coastal District Council during the consultation period.

From 2.30pm on September 16, Mr Catchpole will be at the pavilion with the plans available for people to see. The meeting will start at 7.30pm.

In documents submitted to Suffolk Coastal, Town Planning Services Ltd, agents for Kinetica, said the solar farm would save 8,425 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

The company said: “The development of the site is one way in which the farmer land owner wishes to diversify his farming business, securing a stable income which will help offset some of the risks associated with farming where increasing costs and seasonal fluctuations can have a volatile effect on incomes.

“Agricultural activity would still continue on the site, which could be used for grazing livestock, in addition to the proposed ecological habitat improvements.

“The solar farm would become an extension of the nearby wildlife corridors and habitat areas, improving the biodiversity of the site and supporting that found in the surrounding area.

“Furthermore, the income from the solar farm will allow other investments to be made in the farm to develop the business, supporting local employment and the rural economy.”