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Proposal for 31-hectare solar farm near Haverhill submitted to district council





A planning application for a 31-hectare solar farm on farmland just two miles from Haverhill has been submitted.

Applicants Boultbee Brooks (Renewables Rowley Hill) Ltd and Infraland Ltd has applied to Braintree District Council for full planning permission to construct the solar farm on land east of Hill Lane, in between Sturmer and Steeple Bumpstead.

The applicants say that the facility would be created on two fields currently in arable use and would produce enough electricity for about 6,000 homes.

The solar farm panels would be constructed on 31 hectares of farmland near Sturmer, if approved. File picture
The solar farm panels would be constructed on 31 hectares of farmland near Sturmer, if approved. File picture

Species of rich grassland would be planted beneath the ground mounted PV panels which, says the applicants, would ‘increase the biodiversity of the site’.

After 40 years the solar farm would be decommissioned, according to the planning statement submitted by consultants Lanpro

The statement added: “This development would contribute towards the targets set for the UK’s greenhouse gas emission reduction and increasing the country’s energy supply from renewable sources and more specifically, assist Braintree District Council in its own fight against climate change.”

The location of the proposed solar farm near Sturmer. Contributed picture
The location of the proposed solar farm near Sturmer. Contributed picture

In comments submitted as part of the consultation process, farmer Matt Unwin, whose land would border the proposed solar farm, questioned whether using so much good agricultural land was necessary.

He said: “The site primarily consists of grade II (very good) arable land. Approximately 30-40 per cent of East Anglia, considered the bread basket of England, consists of excellent and very good land for food production, with north-east Essex and south-west Suffolk being one of the largest such areas.

“Surely there must be more suitable sites, with less loss of long term food production land, within reasonable proximity to a 33kv line in the remaining 60-70 per cent of the region.”

With another solar farm also proposed for land at Water Hall Farm in neighbouring Wixoe, he said: “If both proposals are accepted then our land at Waltons Farm will be bordered on both sides by solar farms.

“This will have a significant impact on views from our land to the east and west.

“Being just 1.25km apart, I do feel that it is excessive to be sandwiched by two sites so close together on very good agricultural land.”