East Cambridgeshire District Council has submitted its Relevant Representation response to Sunnica to the Planning Inspectorate.
The Council has been working in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council on their individual responses to the Sunnica proposal.
Each has agreed to focus on their areas of expertise when compiling their Relevant Representations, which have all now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
East Cambridgeshire District Council’s response which can be accessed here: https://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/local-development-framework/sunnica-energy-farm summarises the areas it believes the Planning Inspectorate should explore further when it considers plans for Sunnica.
It highlights a number of concerns including:
- The potential for Sunnica to dominate and transform the local landscape
- The impact on trees
- The detrimental impact on Chippenham Historic Park and Garden
- The hours of construction work
- The detrimental impact on biodiversity
Sunnica Ltd is proposing to build a nationally significant energy farm generating in excess of 50MW of renewable electricity.
If approved it will stretch across four locations, including the East Cambridgeshire villages of Isleham, Chippenham, Kennett and Snailwell; and Freckenham and Worlington in Suffolk.
Each site will feature multiple fields of solar photovoltaic panels and battery energy storage infrastructure, which will connect to each other and the Burwell National Grid Substation by an underground cable.
Because the Sunnica Energy Site is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) the decision on whether or not to grant planning permission rests with the Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and not East Cambridgeshire District Council.
Instead, the Council is a Statutory Consultee and will make representations on the application to the Planning Inspectorate which administers the application process on behalf of the Secretary of State.
The next step is for the councils to continue to work together to produce a joint Local Impact Report - a factual report which expands on the issues raised in the Relevant Representations.
A special planning committee will also be held close to the proposed area at which Councillors will consider the Council’s final response. Residents, parish councils, interested parties and action groups will also be able to attend.
Following the submission of the Local Impact Report the District Council will be invited to give more details of their views in a Written Representation.
This examination process is likely to take around six months, after which the Secretary of State then has a further three months to make the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.