Plans for large solar farm at Reydon

Ambitious plans to set up a new solar farm in Reydon were welcomed this week as the company behind the scheme insisted it would be 'sympathetic' to the landscape and wildlife.

German-owned AEE Renewables has submitted a detailed planning application to Waveney District Council to develop the project at Reydon Farm. If approved by the council's development control committee, it would be built on 10 hectares (24 acres) of land and comprise 12,848 solar panels.

The company says the solar farm, which would be accessed from Quay Lane, would have the potential to produce 4.4MW of electricity for the National Grid and would be capable of providing power for up to 1,400 homes.

It would also become the second high-profile renewable energy site in the village with solar panels as the Adnams distribution centre in Halesworth Road has a number of photovoltaic panels that generate 'green' power, as well as an anaerobic digestion plant which converts the company's brewery waste into gas.

Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey broadly welcomed the solar farm plan.

Dr Coffey said: 'I do welcome renewable energy and solar energy. It makes a lot of sense in our part of Suffolk.'

However, Dr Coffey did say that any solar farm should not displace farm land and wildlife.

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In its submission to Waveney, AEE Renewables says within a planning, design and access statement document that the solar farm could even boost wildlife and retain agriculture on the farm.

The report says: 'The purpose of the solar farm is to generate electrical energy to be supplied to the National Grid. This responds directly to the agenda set by the Climate Change Act 2008. No trees or hedges would be removed and the landscape would be consolidated by seeding and natural regeneration. The area would be seeded for grazing and it is intended to manage grassed areas through grazing sheep and seasonal cutting.

'The opportunity exists to enhance bio-diversity as well as retaining agricultural use.'

The report also states that the solar farm, which would be fenced off for insurance reasons, would be 'sympathetic' to the surrounding landscape and would 'benefit' wildlife bio-diversity.

Simon Gray, the chief executive officer for the East of England Energy Group, said: 'As energy industry association for the East of England, we take a keen interest in all energy sectors, particularly where there is potential local investment in producing energy from sustainable sources to provide vitally needed power to the country in future.

'But it is important to also consider the interests of the local population, the environment and the financial implications – so each initiative needs careful consideration.

'I understand the site will be generating some 4.4MW of power which would equate to sufficient energy for some 1,400 average homes and reducing emissions by some 2,400 tonnes of CO2 each year.

'We will watch its progress with interest.'

In the planning submission, AEE Renewables says the construction of the solar farm could see up to 10 lorry movements a day over a three-month period.

Reydon Parish Council could not comment on the plans as members have not officially seen them yet.

AEE Renewables is a German firm which established a presence in Britain in 2010, by setting up offices in London and Bath. It says it has built one in eight solar farms that currently exist in the UK.

No date has been set for when the solar farm planning application will be discussed by Waveney councillors.

Last year the committee approved a plan by Adnams to install 962 'photovoltaic' panels by land its distribution centre in Halesworth Road.

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