Plans for huge solar farm on land off New Road near Parham recommended for approval ahead of East Suffolk Council's planning meeting
Plans to develop a solar farm the size of more than 100 football pitches in rural East Suffolk are set to get the green light next week.
Officers have recommended that Monday's meeting of East Suffolk Council's strategic planning committee approve proposals by AECOM on behalf of Low Carbon Solar Park 3 Ltd to develop six agricultural fields off New Road near Parham.
The 74-hectare site would see ground-mounted photovoltaic panels erected that would power up to 16,581 homes, saving an estimated 11,210 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
If approved, it is only anticipated to take 16 weeks to build, and has an expected lifespan of 40 years, after which the land would be returned for agricultural use.
The developers say extensive pre-application consultations had seen just 10 per cent of responses that were against the proposals, while 67 per cent were in favour.
In their application they said: "The proposed development would provide a clean, renewable and sustainable form of electricity and would also make a valuable contribution to the generation of electricity at a local level.
"The scheme would add to the region's progress in meeting its renewable energy target and would also assist in meeting national targets for both energy supply and low carbon energy development.
"There is a significant and demonstrable need for the proposed development and the principle of renewable energy generation."
Parham Parish Council has offered its support to the scheme, while there were no objections from Natural England or Hacheston Parish Council among other statutory bodies.
However, Great Glemham Parish Council said that, while remaining open to the principle of solar energy there, it objected to the plans.
"We remain concerned that the wider impact of this development has not been properly assessed by the applicants and have strong concerns in this respect due to the scale of the proposed site, particularly in reference where it moves into the wider landscape outside the curtilage of the old airfield and the impact it will have over a large area of the surrounding countryside as a result," it said.
Marlesford Parish Council added: "The solar farm would dramatically change our local rural scene for the worse."
Suffolk Preservation Society has requested the northern portion of the site is removed because of landscape impacts.
Six representations from members of the public were received, three of which were objections.
East Suffolk Council planning officers have recommended approval, adding: "The proposal would make a significant contribution towards meeting the UK Government’s ambitious carbon reduction commitments."
A spokesman from Low Carbon said: “Low Carbon are highly experienced in delivering renewable energy projects and our proposed solar farm at Parham would provide enough clean power to displace approximately 11,210 tonnes of CO2 and supply 16,581 homes.
“This would reduce and offset carbon emissions, mitigate against climate change, and help East Suffolk Council on its journey to make Suffolk carbon neutral by 2030.
“The proposals include additional landscaping which will help to screen any visual impacts, while providing habitat creation and biodiversity gains.
“The proposals are completely reversible and at the end of the solar farm’s life, all equipment will be removed and the site restored to its current condition.”
The committee will meet from 10.30am on Monday for a decision.