Lights go out on village solar park project after council unanimously turns it down

Protestors have won their fight against a 81-acre solar farm planned for Fendyke Farm, Sutton St James.
Protestors have won their fight against a 81-acre solar farm planned for Fendyke Farm, Sutton St James.
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Developers are considering their next move after plans for an 81-acre solar farm in Sutton St James were thrown out by district councillors.

A project by Merseyside-based BE Renewables to build up to 50,000 solar panels on Fendyke Farm, owned by mum-of-two Deborah Wright, providing low carbon electricity to about 3,200 homes was unanimously rejected 15-0 by South Holland District Council’s planning committee.

At least 25 people from Sutton St James were at the meeting on Wednesday after which Paul Hinks, who spoke against the plans, expressed “elation and a degree of relief” about the decision.

Paul said: “It was very encouraging that it was 15-0 in favour of the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse permission because BE Renewables has been extremely arrogant throughout this process.

“We had at least 18 months of desperation in trying to stop this development which would have had a very significant impact on our lives.

“There was elation and a degree of relief after the meeting, but also a realism that they will probably appeal, even though the Government’s planning policies have changed dramatically in recent years.”

BE Renewables pledged to pump up to £18,000 a year into the village through a Community Benefit Fund and boost council coffers with up to £200,000 a year in retained business rates.

Deborah said: “I’m really disappointed that the plans didn’t go through and we’re looking at what to do next.

“This is a really good project for the area and I can’t for the life of me fathom why people are so against it.

“I understand people’s problems with taking this land out of agricultural use, but I believe we need a balance between food and energy sufficiency.”

Sutton St James district councillor Michael Seymour, who voted against the plans, said: “The proposed development should not be built on good agricultural land.”