Torrent of objections ahead of decision into solar panel farm

AN UNWELCOME INTRUSION: Many residents have raised concerns about proposals for a solar farm in Newton.
AN UNWELCOME INTRUSION: Many residents have raised concerns about proposals for a solar farm in Newton.

Contentious plans to create a solar farm, which objectors claim would “ruin the landscape”, are to be decided upon next week.

The application for the 65-acre solar energy site at Rogers Farm in Newton was due to be determined on Wednesday but, following severe backlash over the proposals from a number of nearby residents, a ruling was delayed.

Instead, at the request of Babergh district councillor Bryn Hurren, members of the authority’s development committee agreed to a site visit, which took place yesterday.

“I have never had an email box so full from people contacting me about an application,” said Mr Hurren.

“There is a lot of strong feeling about this and it was necessary to call for a site visit so everyone can see the impact it will have.”

Sun and Soil Ltd, a company based in Brighton which develops solar farms, is behind the plans for the farmland, owned by Steven and John Taylor.

It hopes to get the go-ahead for the scheme, which would be in place for 25 years and generate enough power for 3,389 homes.

But those against the proposals say the site, which is between Newton Green and Edwardstone, is too close to heritage assets and would be an unwelcome intrusion on the countryside.

“The land is at the top of the valley where I live and I would be able to see it from my home,” said Les Clark, from Edwardstone.

“It is also very close to Edwardstone Church, which is Grade I listed, Newton Church, which is Grade II listed and Rogers Farmhouse, which is also Grade II listed. It is not a suitable site.”

Objectors also claim the panels would be visible from various footpaths and roads in the area, and the land, which is graded as 3A – the third highest-yielding – should only be used for farming.

“It would completely spoil the view and change the landscape,” said Mr Clark.

“I have not come across anybody in the village who is in favour.”

Newton Parish Council has previously discussed the proposals and has raised no complaints.

It is keen that, should the project be approved, funding could be put towards solar-powered-related initiatives, including installing solar panels on the village hall, Christmas lights and a vehicle-activated 30mph sign.

Sharron Norman, chairman of Edwardstone Parish Council, said members were not so impressed.

She said the authority had written to the district council listing worries over the loss of agricultural land, the visual impact of the scheme and doubts about how the panels would be screened.

“There have been some strong objections about the adverse impact,” she said.

The plans, which have been recommended for approval, are to be determined on Wednesday.