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Sunnica solar farm plans reach critical stage as communities await decision

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Residents living in villages surrounding a proposed 2,800-acre solar farm site will today hear the verdict of the planning inspectorate on whether public consultation was properly carried out.

Sunnica, which officially put forward its proposal for what would be Europe’s largest solar farm on November 18, has remained absent at village meetings in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire discussing the project and many feel that engagement with local residents has been inadequate.

“We should find out what happens with the proposal next on Thursday once the planning inspectorate has come to a decision,” said Catherine Judkins, chairman of the Say No to Sunnica group.

The Say no to Sunnica group opposes the project's size and location and has battery safety fears. (53714090)
The Say no to Sunnica group opposes the project's size and location and has battery safety fears. (53714090)

“We have been putting our views across and doing surveys in village and around 90 per cent feel that the public consultation has been inadequate.”

“A statement submitted by Cambridgeshire County Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, West Suffolk Council, and Suffolk County Council, has described the consultation as meeting the bare minimum requirements, but we wouldn’t agree with that.

“There has been no information offered on how the farm will be decommissioned in 40 years, no information on the impact on our environment has been offered, and much of the consultation has been in a digital form which some elderly residents can’t access,” she said.

Sunnica West Site B
Sunnica West Site B

If the consultation is deemed to have been carried out properly, the project will move forward to the examination phase.

However, those who oppose the plans are set on seeking to renew their challenge through other means if this does happen.

“The best way to oppose this is to register with the planning inspector as an interested party and then write up your feedback on the consultation and the proposal,” said Catherine.

“The more voices we have making themselves heard, the better our chances of a positive outcome.”

“We have local politicians on our side who have been engaging with communities and attending meetings which has been a great help and we’re lucky to have that.

“The bottom line is that we are not against solar energy, but this is a very poor example of how solar farms should be built.”