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Palgrave residents protest against construction of 223-acre Grange Solar Farm

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Parish councillors in Palgrave have opposed the construction of Britain’s second largest solar farm in the village.

At a meeting this month, all members of the council voted to oppose the 223-acre Grange Solar Farm – which has been submitted by Pathfinder Clean Energy (PACE) and is awaiting approval from planning authorities.

If approved, the development – roughly the size of 334 football pitches – will lie on Grange Farm, in Old Bury Road, and promises to power around 16,000 homes a year and create 20 jobs. It would be the second largest solar farm in Britain, after 250-acre Shotwick Solar Park, in Wales.

Villagers have held a demonstration to voice their opposition to the application. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022
Villagers have held a demonstration to voice their opposition to the application. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022

Chairman of Palgrave Parish Council, Neil Weston, warned that the development will have a negative impact on job prospects in the village and could even have a detrimental impact on the environment.

“It represents a massive industrial development over 200 acres in the countryside west of Palgrave that is directly adjacent to the village and visible for miles around,” said Mr Weston.

“It will have a dramatic and hugely negative impact on the area surrounding Palgrave, Roydon and Diss, the wildlife, residential amenity, recreation and mental health.”

The application was submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning portal in late May. In just two months, it has so far racked up 56 comments, of which just five are in support.

A key issue for many residents is the detrimental impact they say the plant will have on the landscape.

To combat this, PACE have promised create new meadows at the site and increase hedgerows by over 40 per cent.

Johnny Ling, who owns Grange Farm, said: “From my point of view, it already sits within a mature landscape of hedges and trees and there’s more planting and other things to come to help build it in.

“PACE had a community meeting with the village hall and I believe they have taken on board what people have said and adjusted their plans.”

Anne Moynihan, who lives in The Green, was not swayed by the pledge.

She said: “Even if hedging is planted, nurtured, and maintained it would never produce the desired effect of blocking out this monstrous development or provide recompense for ‘loss of outlook’ which has been so valuable to villagers and visitors in maintaining their mental well-being in recent years.

“My mother, grandmother and great grandmother and their families were all born and brought up in or just outside of Palgrave and I can remember clearly hearing about my mother and grandmother’s happy childhoods because of their ability to roam, play, cycle and build dens in the countryside surrounding the village.”

Another key concern is how the plant will impact the biodiversity in the area.

You can leave a comment on the planning application by clicking here.

PACE promise that the project will not involve the removal of any trees or hedges, and that the land beneath the panels will be available for grazing livestock such as sheep.