Energy firm Sunnica has submitted plans to build a 2,792 acre solar farm and energy storage infrastructure on the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire borders.
If the Planning Inspectorate recommends to ministers that the plans should be given the go-ahead later this year, it will be the largest solar farm built in the UK so far, providing power for 100,000 homes.
But MPs and residents living in many of the small villages in the area have decried proposals by Sunnica to use compulsory purchase orders for land on which it needs access and where it cannot reach a negotiated settlement with owners.
This would include significant sections of land under which to lay electricity cables connecting the solar panels and battery storage units to the Burwell National Grid Substation in Cambridgeshire.
It could also see the compulsory purchase of land to create wider roads and access points to allow construction of the huge project, which is equivalent to the size of 2,115 football pitches.
The company stated that it “requires powers of compulsory acquisition to ensure that the scheme can be built, maintained and operated, and so that the Government’s policies in relation to the timely delivery of new generating capacity and achieving ambitious net zero targets are met.”
Matt Hancock MP, the former health secretary, who along with Lucy Frazer, a Treasury minister, represents the area earmarked for the development, told The Telegraph: “By attempting to force through unpopular proposals they [Sunnica] damage the case for delivering the renewables we need.
“I support solar developments locally where they are in the right place, with the support of us locally. The way Sunnica has gone about this is completely wrong.”
More than a dozen land and property owners are thought to be holding out against Sunnica’s attempt to acquire “an interest” in their land in order to lay cables and gain or improve access to the sites on which the solar farm would be built.
In all these cases Sunnica say “no progress” is being made in negotiations, indicating they may need to move to compulsory purchase.
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