Sunnica warned of battle to come over 2,800-acre solar farm  

Sunnica opposition to solar plant

'This is a deeply unsatisfactory and unsuitable application' was how one senior councillor summed up proposals for giant solar energy farm straddling West Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. - Credit: SUNNICA

Neighbouring county councils have spoken of their growing concerns over a 2,800-acre solar farm that would span both counties. 

Suffolk and Cambridgeshire County councils outlined their views about the proposed Sunnica energy scheme in separate statements.  

Councillor Lorna Dupré, chair of Cambridgeshire County environment and green investment committee, said: “At present we cannot support the proposals as they stand”. 

Cllr Richard Rout, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for the environment and finance, said: “This is a deeply unsatisfactory and unsuitable application. 

“It will permanently change a unique part of Suffolk which has been shaped by agriculture and horse racing.” 

Sunnica plan an energy farm with solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage infrastructure connecting to the Burwell National Grid Substation.  

It proposed to provide 500MW of electricity which is equivalent to providing for approximately 100,000 homes.  

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The development spans four sites:  

* Sunnica East Site A, near Isleham;  

* Sunnica East Site B, near Freckenham and Worlington   

* Sunnica West Site A, near Chippenham and Kennett  

* Sunnica West Site B, near Snailwell  

Cllr Dupre says her committee will submit concerns to the Planning Inspectorate. 

She said they add to the council’s earlier response that more evidence is needed around the value of the land, particularly in relation to its yield.  

Key issues raised include transport, access, “vague” archaeological strategy and flood risk and drainage. 

Cllr Dupré said the council remained committed to renewable energy “but this commitment cannot come at any cost. 

“We will always examine the detail of all projects and the impact they may have on residents.  

“At present, we cannot support the proposals for this project as they stand.  

“As a statutory consultee, we have a duty to raise any concerns and we will continue to monitor the application process closely.”  

Cllr Rout said the proposals are “massively lacking in sufficient detail. 

“We are confronted by an applicant who is not paying due regard to the majority of our concerns.” 

The examination by the Planning Inspectorate is expected to begin in spring 2022 and last for six months. 

A recommendation will then be made to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  

The Secretary of State is expected to make a decision around spring 2023.