High Court orders re-think on solar farm planning refusal near Beccles

A solar farm A solar farm

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
12:16 PM

An energy company denied planning permission by the Government to build one of the country’s largest solar farms near Beccles, has won a second chance at London’s High Court.

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One of the country’s top judges, Mr Justice Lindblom, ordered Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to reconsider the controversial proposal, which would involve more than 90,000 solar panels on fields at Ellough.

Planning permission has already been granted for a smaller solar farm at the site, but the company now hopes it will have more luck in securing a 25-year planning permission for the larger development on the 46 hectare site – equivalent to almost 65 football pitches - adjacent to Ellough Airfield on Benacre Road.

Lark Energy claimed that Mr Pickles had wrongly rejected its application despite his own planning inspector finding that the solar farm would cause only limited harm to its surroundings and would not have significant environmental effects.

The inspector had found that the proposal complied with development plan policies and recommended granting permission.

And, upholding the claim, the judge said: “The decision letter contains an assessment of the planning merits which is clearly at odds with the inspector’s.”

He said that the final decision contained an assessment that the proposal complied with one of two key policies in the development, but not the other – a policy “concerned with the protection of landscape character”.

But he said that the Communities Secretary failed to explain how he would reconcile his conclusions relating to those policies when he had disagreed with the inspector.

He found that Mr Pickles reasons left “genuine doubt” that he had made his decision properly in accordance with the 2004 Planning Act.

The judge rejected three other grounds of challenge, but quashed the decision and ordered the matter to be reconsidered in the light of his ruling.

The scheme was originally rejected by Waveney District Council, against the recommendation of its own planning officer, in February 2013.

The Secretary of State rejected Lark Energy’s appeal in October 2013.

In between, in April 2013, the Council did grant permission for a much smaller solar farm on about 29 hectares in the northern part of the site.

15 comments

  • Ah hello Windless...again. I'll see if you can answer me this time. First some "facts" See Ofgem Factsheet 98 for the breakdown of your contribution to renewable energy. The ROC and the FiT come to £27 per year for an average household (I assume you are not in a typical family unit so less for you). Not worth busting a blood vessel over when compared to the £7bn clean up bill for our old nuclear plants. Now what was your way forward for UK energy policy into the future. If it's not a domestic low carbon industry - is it nuclear, fracking, French nuclear, or liquid gas from those champions of human rights - Qatar. What should we be doing? In addition, fossil fuels are not withour their subsidies, tax breaks for Fracking and North sea Gas. Truth is there are no easy answers to our future energy needs. For renewables it's very early days and the industry requires support, just same as the other energy industries.

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    Barney

    Monday, June 30, 2014

  • A lot said about renewables, sadly these are only windpower and solar. Nuclear is not renewable and power tations become defunct after a 40 year lifespan. We collectively need to look at precaution with regards to sea level rise and the past neglected sea defences, but where are the project for tidal energy? where is the generation of energy from sea currents? Starved of development money, financial support, when these simple engineering projects would make dangerous PWR nuclear power obsolete, unecessarry. The price for a cheap Chinese HS2 seem to be a horse deal that comes with cheap and nasty PWR stations. Tidal energy and sea defences would buy us 150 years time, nuclear power will mean a high risk dangerous legacy of 1000 years to our children. This solar and wind only selectivity that is promoted, without much environmental concerns, stifles a plethora of alternative energy provision and lark energy should operate their sites without subsidies, lets see how eager they are then to reduce CO2. These are shameless days where every Tom Dick and Norwegian Government, poor sods, is out for a share of our taxes, maybe we should consider this when we pay them.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Windlass…you make me laugh, where do you get these silly ideas about land is only for growing food? Who Said….????? Land is for whatever reason the use is chosen for it. And no there isn’t a food shortage, if there was then yes maybe food but the fact is there isn’t. We in the UK waste 15m tonnes of food a year we need to look and control that if shortage was the problem. Paying subsidies for renewable energy is essential to fund Wind, Solar and Nuclear for our future also to meet the targets for emissions. Renewable subsidies are only for short term and will end in the future anyway for now they will encourage investment in the new low-carbon energy generation we need to keep the lights on. This is down to the closure of “Dirty” energy like Coal and gas power stations. This together is all for the good of all now and future generations, this has to be done now, growing Veg is unfortunately not going to turn on an electric light bulb or heat our homes.

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    YesToWind&Solar

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Nimbyism has nothing to do with it, efficiencies and benefits to the community are the key points, these things have a use in life but as previously stated, fit them onto the roof of every available building, then they are useful and out of the way. If there was planning permission applied to build a new power station, or incinerator all you people in favour would be up in arms about a blot on the landscape and spoiling the beautiful countryside. This is not alternative farming, it is just a rip off that you will pay for. If you want power, build another nuclear station on these old airfields.

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    Mr T

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • Sorry narrow minded not barrow minded (all this talk of farming) :)

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    Martin Grove

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Another NIMBY! Who says land is for just growing food, what about raising livestock? Best of both worlds. Land for raising livestock and producing power at the same time. As far as I know I don't think there is a law stating that land is purely for growing food and come to think of it where are the starving people in east anglia? Can't say I've heard of a food shortage! We need other options for producing power and not just fossil fuels. This is a classic example of borrow minded people who can't accept change.

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    Martin Grove

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Right!! Some facts:- 1 Land is for growing FOOD, NOT harvesting subsidy 2 Solar works, in the best possible conditions 12 hrs per day, where the fcuk do you think the electricity comes from of the dark 12hrs???? 3 Green Energy -= Idiocy, every time!

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    Windless

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Total rubbish What about wheat for bread or fresh vegetables? These panels are just another money making trade that is subsidised with tax payers money. The panel were made in Germany but they became to expensive so they are now made in China on the cheap. If these sites were built without tax payers money it would be a lot better but as usual energy profits have to come first. The tree huggers need to wake up or do they want to see more people go hungry with the lights on.

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    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Sweet Cheeks…They use the land also as grazing for sheep as Martin Grove says..and you can eat them. Anyway over 40% of food is imported from outside the UK and its growing fast. Land is Land it can have many uses, the owner can choose whatever he likes it for…..NO ONE says it has to be food, It’s just another excuse for the NIMBYS to have a moan about.

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    MickB1

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Since when have you been able to eat these things? We have people starving but we are taking good quality land out of production, there are millions of buildings with vast roofing areas that could be used instead. As per usual energy companies will be making vast profits which needs to be taxed and the money used for long term answers. As for wind turbines, well they are an even bigger joke.

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    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • I don't understand why people are so anal about this sort of thing. NIMBY is a great part of the negative comments on this story. What is wrong with the panels? People get to grips, we need to source other green sources of energy and this is a great example. We need to get used to these solar farms as they are the future in green electricity. The land is being used for farming, just a different type of farming. I believe the sheep are also going to graze the land

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    Martin Grove

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • A sensible decision..! About time.

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    YesToWind&Solar

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Another major Blot on the landscape and destruction of some land that could be put to better use. Suppose these people will not be happy until we have sunk under solar panels, no need to worry about coastal erosion, East Anglia will be destroyed long before the sea takes over

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    Mr T

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • it is amazing how wealthy companies manage to get their own way.

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    norman hall

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • This is wrong, energy companies should not be allowed to over rule the government. We should be growing food not solar panels, there is to much farm land out of production as it is without these energy companies milking the countryside for all it's worth.

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    Sweet cheeks

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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