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Disappointment from developer after Mid Suffolk Council rejects plans for Badley solar farm, near Stowmarket

A developer has been left disappointed after a solar farm project was rejected – despite support from councillors and residents.

The project was proposed by Elgin Energy and would have seen 14,000 homes powered for 40 years before it was rejected by Mid Suffolk Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

The solar farm was proposed in a portion of land at Woodlands Farm, in Badley, spanning 57.71ha — nearly the same size as 70 football pitches.

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

The refusal, due to concerns over the project’s impact on multiple listed buildings in its surroundings, and the lack of a noise assessment, was issued despite councillors’ voiced support for the farm.

However, Michelle Howley, the senior development manager representing Elgin Energy, believes noise was a non-issue, with background noise at the site drowning out any extra sound produced by the project.

She added: “We always do noise reports for all our projects and the council brought it to us too late so we had no time to respond, and it wasn’t flagged in pre-application.

“We believe that if this noise issue hadn’t been brought up, we would’ve had a recommendation for approval — we were a bit disappointed.”

Despite this, Ms Howley said Elgin Energy would continue to push for a solar farm on the site and would now discuss whether to appeal the committee’s decision or submit a revised application which would include a noise assessment.

But this refusal still places a barrier on the project’s delivery, with Ms Howley estimating a new application could delay it by up to around eight months.

Cllr Rowland Warboys, the only one in the committee to vote against the refusal, said it had been a complicated decision to reach.

He explained: “I wasn’t happy with reaching a decision based on the fact the case it was lacking the documentation on noise.

“But we couldn’t possibly approve it because there wasn’t information on the noise assessment.”