Griff Rhys Jones objects to Tattingstone solar farm plan

  • 15 May 2013
  • From the section Suffolk
Griff Rhys Jones
Image caption Griff Rhys Jones said nearby "wasteland" would be a better place to put panels on

Comedian Griff Rhys Jones said building a £25m solar farm near his Suffolk home would be a "folly" that would ruin the landscape.

Hive Energy wants to build a 43,000-panel farm at Tattingstone, near Ipswich.

Mr Rhys Jones said he feared a "gigantic change of use to farmland".

Hive said it would help provide the UK's energy needs and the solar panels would eventually be concealed by hedgerows and trees.

The £25m proposals would cover 95 acres (38 hectares) at Valley Farm near Alton Reservoir.

The company said it would generate 16MW of electricity - enough to supply 6,000 homes.

'Blight the countryside'

Mr Rhys Jones, who is a patron of the Stour and Orwell Society, said it was "folly".

"We've been conned into assuming that when we put in renewables it doesn't matter that they blight the countryside because they're saving the planet," he said.

"If approved, it effectively will allow others to do the same in other areas and we could be facing a gigantic change of use to our farmland across Britain.

"We could identify better wasteland to do this or use the roofs of industrial estates within a few miles of this beautiful countryside."

Holbrook, Tattingstone and Wherstead parish councils have criticised the plans, but bodies including Natural England, the RSPB and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust did not object.

Tim Purbrick, commercial director of Hive Energy, said: "There are no immediate neighbours to the site and we will be making a six-figure investment with new hedges and copses, so within five to seven years we don't think you will be able to see into the solar park from the local area.

Image caption The council had received 90 letters of objection from local villagers

"You don't lose agricultural land - you can't plant crops, but you can use sheep to graze the grass beneath them and you can drive a tractor between them and take hay off the land.

"We're having to rely on overseas countries continuing to supply the UK which isn't good for our energy security and we need a mix of nuclear, oil and gas in the short term, and renewables."

Babergh District Council's planning officers have recommended the solar farm is approved.

The council's planning committee has deferred making a decision on the solar farm until June.

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