Inspector upholds solar farm refusal

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

An appeal to build a 69-acre solar farm in Newton has been rejected by a planning inspector.

John Braithwaite announced his decision yesterday to reject the appeal by solar farm developer Sun and Soil to create a solar farm on Rogers Farm in Newton.

Mr Braithwaite visited the site on February 10, and used written representations to inform his decision.

He found that the land was of some of the “best and most versatile” in the UK.

In his report, he said that, having taken into account guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework and recent ministerial statements, there was a need to “avoid using the best agricultural land for large-scale solar farms”.

Mr Braithwaite also said the development would have had a slight adverse impact on the “special landscape” of the site and would harm the visual amenity of the area.

In his conclusion, he said: “In my judgement, the harm that would be caused by the proposed development significantly and demonstrably outweighs the environmental benefits of the solar power scheme.”

If accepted, the scheme would have offset in the region of 7,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and provided energy to power around 3,390 homes, something Mr Braithwaite said he had afforded significant weight.

Babergh District Council’s planning committee had rejected the application in February 2014, against the advice of officers.

The council had called for the appeal to be dismissed on the following grounds:

l That the development is located within an unspoilt, locally-valued landscape.

l It is a greenfield location graded as being of best and most versatile condition.

l It would have a detrimental impact on the setting of listed buildings.