Sun sets on Forest Heath’s Lakenheath solar park

A sight not coming to a field near Lakenheath

A sight not coming to a field near Lakenheath

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The project to build a £14.4 million council-run solar park in Forest Heath has been dropped.

Forest Heath District Council said today that the ‘due diligence’ legal, financial and commercial checks it had done on the site at Toggam Farm, in Newfen Gravel Drove, Lakenheath, had revealed issues around the site that it feared could not be resolved in time to meet the March 31 completion deadline to gain ‘crucial Government funding’.

It had already put the details of the site and work required onto Suffolk County Council’s e-procurement website, revealing the location it had wanted to keep secret and the 13 contracts available for the 11.7 megawatt solar park.

Planning permission for the solar park was granted in December 2012 to Greenheath Farming, which is based at Toggam Farm, and that permission is valid until December 3 this year.

The West Suffolk Councils had looked at the farm as a way of producing income to offset the way their Government funding has almost been halved in the past two years. It would have been only the third council-run solar park in the country.

Cllr Stephen Edwards, cabinet member for resources and performance, said: “In this case we have invested £130,000 on due diligence to safeguard our potential £14.4 million outlay.

“The money spent, less than one per cent of the proposed investment, has done its job in terms of flagging up a number of issues which while not insurmountable, could have jeopardised our overall investment.

“It is similar to getting surveyors’ reports before deciding whether to buy a house. In this case, however, that value from the reports is not lost as we are already using much of the legal, financial, technical and commercial intelligence obtained from due diligence to apply to other projects which will support services for the benefit of our residents. The cost of due diligence will not impact on Council Tax or services.

“We remain committed to looking for opportunities to invest in community energy projects.”