Palgrave’s Solar Farm Approval: A Villager’s Frustration Echoes Community Concerns

Solar farm
Palgrave, Norfolk, 13/08/2022..Palgrave residents protesting about the proposed solar farm on the outskirts of the village. Pictured from left Jeremy Moynihan, Anne Moynihan, Brad Greenfield, Pat Leigh and Leo Soares.. .Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022.

“Palgrave’s Solar Farm Approval: A Villager’s Frustration Echoes Community Concerns”

The approval of the expansive 200-acre solar farm in Palgrave has triggered a wave of frustration and disillusionment among villagers, spearheaded by Anne Moynihan, a vocal opponent of the project.

She expressed her exasperation at what she deemed a flawed and predetermined application process, labeling it a farce.

The green light given by the Mid Suffolk District Council to the Grange Farm development, proposed by Pathfinder Clean Energy, marks a significant setback for locals already grappling with the potential emergence of a second solar farm in Marsh Lane, adjacent to the Grange Farm site.

Moynihan, previously at the forefront of the opposition against the Grange Farm plans, voiced her disappointment, signaling a reluctant withdrawal from future campaigns.

Her disillusionment stems from what she perceives as an unheeding stance by decision-makers, disregarding the villagers’ staunch objections centred around the agricultural land’s loss.

Expressing her resolve, Moynihan lamented,

“I’ll never campaign against anything ever again, because there is no point.

“This part of East Anglia is earmarked to become industrialized and will no longer be countryside. They haven’t taken our concerns on board in any way or at any point in the proceedings.

“Given everything I have seen or heard since the September planning meeting, it felt like this decision was a foregone conclusion.

“I also now fully understand how powerless we are to protect what we have in the face of an ideology that is being promoted by officers and councillors.

 

She highlighted discrepancies in the council meeting, citing instances where factual inaccuracies about the projected power supply were left uncorrected.

“At the meeting, councillor Warboys was talking about the plans powering 16,000 homes, but it’s actually more like 10,000 to 11,000, but nobody even corrected him.

“They were also able to ignore the new Diss and District Neighbourhood Plan and issues around the sub-station because we already have one pylon there,” she remarked.

Despite backlash directed at the council’s decision, the authority asserts its commitment to valuing community input in future project submissions. Council leader Andy Mellen stressed the need for a balanced approach, advocating for a priority on rooftop solar installations over rural farmland development.

Mellen elucidated,

The National Policy Planning Framework guides our planning decisions, but currently does not adequately protect the best and most versatile farmland.

“Nor does it allow us to compel developers to put solar panels on the roofs of new homes.

“Energy production is a national priority, but so is food production. We want to make the right choices for the planet and for our people, but we need the national policy framework in which to make them. Roof before rural is our strong preference.

“In the meantime, we strongly encourage developers to consider agriculture, the landscape and our communities when they submit their applications and to listen and respond to local concerns.

“As a Green council, we do want to see local renewable energy production – it will be impossible for the country to meet its climate objectives without it – but are very aware of the challenges that come along with that.

“When these applications come in, our communities regularly express their concerns, and we want to make sure that residents’ voices are heard and that the district retains its beautiful and productive agricultural landscape.”

The council’s stance underscores a call for developers to heed community concerns, prioritizing agricultural preservation and landscape integrity in solar farm proposals. They advocate for developers to engage proactively with local communities, offering tangible benefits and addressing expressed concerns.

The statement acknowledges the significance of renewable energy but emphasizes the necessity of safeguarding agricultural landscapes. It pledges the council’s commitment to reflect on national policy changes concerning such developments.

In essence, while the Palgrave solar farm approval has ignited dissent and disillusionment, it has also propelled a renewed call for a balanced and community-centric approach to future energy projects in the region.

 


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