Sunnica solar energy park – SPS has submitted its Written Representation to the Planning Inspectorate in respect of the NSIP application for a solar farm and battery storage facility across the Suffolk/ Cambridgeshire border.
We have objected to the unprecedented scale of the proposals covering almost 1000 hectares of greenfield land and the impacts on landscapes and farmland. We consider that the quality of place around the villages of Freckenham and Worlington will be harmed and the historic landscape pattern will be lost. We have particularly highlighted the harm that one part of the scheme will have on views from the Limekilns Gallops in Newmarket, a non-designated heritage asset which enjoys long distance views as far as Ely Cathedral. We have also questioned the site selection process and raised areas where insufficient detail has been provided to make a thorough assessment of impacts.
SPS has submitted responses to a number of planning applications which impact Suffolk’s heritage (click on the headings to read our letters in full):
SPS was consulted on additional reports to support Essex Highway’s plans to replace a bridge across the River Stour at Boxted, on the Essex Suffolk border. It is a non-designated heritage asset, overlooking a listed Mill House and mill pond, in a tranquil location within the Dedham Vale AONB. The additional plans include an assessment of the landscape impact which we consider fails to assess the quality and opportunity for continued views from the bridge itself. SPS remains unconvinced that complete replacement of the bridge, with a larger bridge and carriageway widening, is necessary and calls for a more sensitive, conservative approach, given the significant heritage and landscape impacts.
The application for a 49MW solar factory close to Bramford substation forms part of a trio of similar schemes which are all currently under consideration by Mid Suffolk District Council. The SPS has commented on the Heritage Addendum recently submitted by the Applicant in response to concerns raised by SPS and others regarding the impacts of the PV installation upon the setting of a grade II listed farmhouse, Rutters Farm. The Heritage Addendum confirms that there will be a degree of harm to the setting of the farmhouse, and SPS has reiterated its call for amendments to the layout and additional mitigation in the form of planting to protect the setting of the farmhouse.
After the recent refusal for the conversion of a model farmyard group to provide 5 dwellings, a fourth application has now been submitted. It is predominantly the same as the previous scheme apart from revisions to the access, which have previously been objected to by Suffolk County Council Highways. SPS has consistently raised concerns about the suburbanising impact of the scheme in this sensitive location within the AONB and adjoining a grade I listed Tudor gatehouse and grade II* Erwarton Hall. We have urged the local planning authority to continue to resist this damaging scheme.
SPS has responded to the latest iteration of a scheme to develop a modest post war bungalow adjoining the churchyard of St Andrews Church, a grade I listed building. This is the latest application in a long history of refused and withdrawn schemes. SPS continues to object to the scale and design of the extensions and the lack of a proper assessment of heritage impacts on the setting of the church and the adjacent Walberswick Conservation Area.
East Anglian Daily Times monthly opinion piece
SPS Director, Fiona Cairns, on the Sunnica solar farm scheme currently at Examination whilst the constituency MP for the Suffolk element of the scheme is in Australia appearing on a reality TV show.