La Hogue Landowner says she is 'horrified' at the prospect of 250 acres of farm land being compulsorily purchased for use in Sunnica's solar farm just outside Newmarket
A landowner said she is ‘horrified’ at the prospect of around 250 acres of her family’s farmland being compulsorily purchased and covered in solar panels.
Sunnica has set its sights on land at La Hogue Farm, just outside Newmarket, which, under initial proposals, will form part of the controversial 2,500 acre energy farm which will stretch from Worlington to Burwell.
But Joanna Reeks, whose family have been farming on the land for decades, and who runs the La Hogue farm shop and café with her husband Chris, said the solar firm’s proposals were ‘devastating’.
“The thought of half of our farm taken away from us is truly horrifying,” she said.
“We were considering going into the scheme but we withdrew in November for many reasons, mainly we didn’t like the way it was progressing. When we told them we would not be allowing it their response was to compulsory purchase it.”
While no formal offers have yet been made, she said they had been told twice the company would pursue the land for the scheme to move forward. “It’s been explicitly said it will continue,” she said.
This week Sunnica sent surveyors to the land as it makes its environmental impact assessment, a requirement of applying for a development consent order.
Because of the size of the project, which is deemed nationally significant, the fate of the solar farm will be decided by the planning inspectorate before it is signed off by the government.
A spokesman for the solar company said it had not yet reached the point of buying land for the project.
“At this stage no compulsory acquisition of land in the environs of La Hogue Farm is being undertaken and any suggestion that it is being commenced this week is incorrect,” he said.
“Sunnica is in the process of considering the comments received during the statutory consultation and how it should respond to those comments including any amendments to the design of the scheme. It would therefore be premature to make any decision at this stage as to whether it will seek compulsory acquisition powers over the land in the environs of La Hogue Farm.”