Solar farm result on appeal soon

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The outcome of a planning appeal for a 65-acre solar farm in Newton countryside could be known within the next few months.

A planning inspectorate is dealing with an appeal by Sun and Soil Ltd – on behalf of landowners Steven and John Taylor – against Babergh District Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for a solar panel farm the size of 37 football pitches.

The proposal is for a change of use of agricultural land at Rogers Farm, in Rogers Lane, with solar panels in place on the land for 25 years.

A spokeswoman for the district council said: “We have contacted the planning inspectorate and were advised that the earliest date may be some time in late November or early December, but this is only an estimate and it could, indeed, be later.”

After stiff opposition to the plan from nearby residents and Edwardstone Parish Council, the planning application was refused by Babergh in May.

Newton Green Parish Council had reviewed concerns about the solar farm, but unanimously chose to support it.

The district council said the appeal should be dismissed because the plans are unacceptable on three grounds which are defined in national planning policy as key issues.

It said these are issues which must be “satisfactorily addressed in assessing large-scale solar developments in the countryside”.

The issues are that the development is located within an unspoilt, locally-valued landscape, is a greenfield location “graded as being of best and most versatile condition” and would have a detrimental impact on the setting of listed buildings.

In its appeal report, Babergh said it acknowledged the benefits of solar energy production but it had not been “demonstrated satisfactorily” that there were no alternative non-agricultural sites available, or that land of lesser agricultural quality was not available.

The appeal is being dealt with by written representations.