County council says vast new solar farm earmarked for Soham could power more than 3,000 homes

08:34 06 August 2014


Cambridgeshire County Council has unveiled plans for a vast new solar farm in Soham.

More than 70 acres of Fen farmland will make way for 50,000 solar panels as part of the new development, which, the council hopes, will generate enough electricity to power 3,150 homes per year.

The council says it chose the land at Triangle Farm, in Angle Common, because it is grade three and “the heaviest and least productive land on the holding”.

It is initially proposed to keep the panels in place for the next 25 years – though the council says it could extend the planning permission after that time.

It added that it expects sheep will be grazed on the land when the panels have been installed.

In its plans, the council said: “The rows of panels would be set back from the site boundaries to prevent overshadowing from adjoining vegetation and the site fence. “There would also be a separation of 4-6m between each row, again to ensure that the panels are not overshadowing each other. This will ensure that the existing trees and hedges that surround the site will not be harmed by the development.”

The authority expects it to take about four months to get the panels installed and producing electricity.

The council added: “It is concluded that the scheme provides an appropriate design, enabling the development of a high quality renewable energy project with suitable mitigation and enhancements also proposed.”

A decision on the plans is expected within the next eight weeks. To view the plans, or to have a say, visit

1 comment

  • This is a totally disgraceful and scandalous use of public money. Even ignoring the immorality of urbanising the countryside in this way, Cambridge University studies in conjunction with National Power Networks have shown that such 'farms' have negative Net Present Value over the lifetime of the project. Effectively that means the council is relying on PR to make people think it is a 'green' thing to do when it is nothing of the sort and won't make any money. The idea of sheep grazing below them is an oft repeated fantasy - see the farm at Wilburton where that claim had no basis in fact. Grade 3 is Best and Most Valuable arable land, in theory protected by the National Policy Planning Framework, and it should remain so. Here in the Eastern region, we are stewards of most of the UK's BMV land, hence we are supposed to be the breadbasket of the country. The green thing (and government policy) is to put solar panels on roof tops of buildings such as hospitals, schools and industrial estates.Using the electricity generated within the building not only avoids expensive upgrades of the grid network (which are carried out at the consumer's expense) and avoids losses in transmission, but also encourages a change in behaviour, reducing consumption. That is why the subsidies for renewable energy are in the process of being restructured to avoid giving our money to worthless causes. This particular scheme is too late for subsidy unless the council pleads that good money should follow bad. It's time the planning and finance departments of councils in this region took note of government policy, which in this respect is absolutely in line with conservation of the environment. The local Councils should admit they were misguided and abandon this plan.

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    Al Finn

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

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