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The fields just outside Newmarket which will be part of a huge new solar farm if controversial Sunnica solar scheme gets the green light

District planners will be expected to give their thoughts on a sprawling solar farm just outside Newmarket next year – but because of the scale of the plans elected councillors won’t be able to block it.

Suffolk News has captured images of the land where the 1,700 acre solar farm will cover in the west of the county, and also in neighbouring East Cambridgeshire where the massive facility will extend into.

The energy farm, which will generate enough energy at its peak to power 100,000 homes, will stretch from between Freckenham and Isleham down to Worlington, with other sites just outside Newmarket and an electric sub-station in Burwell.

Both East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk district councils will be asked for their thoughts on the scheme, which is bitterly opposed by residents, in June 2021 as they are both considered statutory consultees.

But because the Sunnica Energy Farm is considered a national strategic infrastructure project the Government will make the decision.

Taking into account the thoughts of planning committees in East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk, if the Government green-lights the 500 megawatt facility could be completed work could start as early as 2022.

East Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning department yesterday looked at the timetable set out by solar developer Sunnica towards submitting its plans to build the facility.

Andrew Phillips, planning team leader, told East Cambridgeshire’s planning committee it was the secretary of state who would make the final call and not councillors.

“The council has been actively involved in pre-application meetingsrelated to this proposal. This was encouraged by Government advice,” his report to the committee said.

Mr Phillips was also outlined the stages towards the scheme being awarded a development consent order from the secretary of state.

At the moment Sunnica is concluding its statement of community involvement, which has consulted councils as far away as Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire on what their thoughts are about the development set to border villages just outside Newmarket.

Pre-submission work is set to begin in November and end in February next year, where council officers will make their first representations regarding technical issues. Plans will be submitted in 2021.

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