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Campaigners’ message to Ed Miliband: Say no to Sunnica solar farm

The new government has been urged to listen to the local community over a massive proposed solar farm.

A decision over Sunnica, which would be created over three sites in East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk, will be made by Ed Miliband, who has been appointed as Secretary of State for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero in the new Labour government.

Campaigners have been fighting Sunnica's solar farm plan for years
Campaigners have been fighting Sunnica's solar farm plan for years

The scheme is being reviewed under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process, because of its enormous size - 2,500 acres, or approximately 2,000 football pitches.

In April, the government pushed back a decision for a fourth time until June 20, but because Parliament was dissolved on May 30 and the General Election called for July 4, the decision process was disrupted.

Since then, local residents and supporters of the Say No to Sunnica community group lobbied election candidates fighting the Ely and East Cambridgeshire and the West Suffolk constituencies, urging them to push for the scheme to rejected.

The proposed solar farm stretches around 15 miles from end to end and affects 16 parishes and towns along its route. It is planned on greenfield land, including some of the UK’s best, high yielding irrigated farmland. The three sites are near Isleham, near Freckenham and Worlington and near Chippenham and Kennett.

Dr Catherine Judkins, chairman of the Say No to Sunnica group, said: “This dreadful scheme, with all its deceptions, has been hanging over communities for well over five years now. Its negative impacts, if it were to be approved, would last for generations.

“We need the government to recognise that solar can and must be delivered better than this. It can be done and, importantly, with community support if it is in the right place and at the right scale.”

Farmer Nick Wright, who has spoken at the inquiries into the scheme, said: “Sunnica’s claims that the land is poor quality are unsubstantiated. You only have to drive around the vast area included in the scheme and look at the crops growing to see that this is not the case.”

The scheme has been opposed by parish councils, district councils and by both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk county councils.

Sunnica has said the land used would be decontaminated and returned to its original, largely agricultural use once the scheme was finished.

The farm would power 172,000 homes and create 1,500 jobs during construction, with 27 full-time jobs to run it, according to the company.

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