Villagers objecting to ‘industrial’ solar site

Dennis Worby is worried a solar farm near Rickinghall will blight the view from his bedroom windows

Dennis Worby is worried a solar farm near Rickinghall will blight the view from his bedroom windows

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Villagers have begun a campaign to fight a plan for nearly 90,500 solar panels between Rickinghall and Wattisfield.

People who live around the 117 acre site on West Street, Rickinghall, say they only heard at the last moment that the plan would be discussed at Wattisfield Parish Council on Monday, where they packed the meeting.

The site is in Rickinghall Parish and developers Bellis Energy said they wanted to discuss it with both parish councils but had to fit in with council agendas. A public consultation meeting will be held at Rickinghall Village Hall on Thursday July 25 at 7pm.

Dennis Worby, whose home backs onto the site in West Street, said eight homes look directly onto the site.

“But it’s not just the people who live round it,” he said. “It’s people who live in the villages round it — it’s an industry when it gets this big.

“We couldn’t honestly live here if it comes off. Our horizon is the middle of that field.”

Philippa Rixon’s home in Calkewood Lane also overlooks the site. She said: “I’m in favour of local energy projects, but this is a huge commercial installation which is an abomination in our countryside.”

Her property includes the ancient wood the road is named after which was investigated in the early 1950s by archeologist Basil Brown, who excavated the Sutton Hoo boat burial. His maps show roman finds on or close to the site.

Diane Beaumont lives on the other side of the field in Manning’s Lane. She criticised land owner John Davie-Thornhill, of Hinderclay.

“I think its nimby,” she said. “If he wants to earn money from this I’m sure he can find somewhere nobody looks at except himself.”

“I’ve never been involved in any protest, but this has made me want to do it.”

Mr Davie-Thornhill said the developers chose the site.

Simon Barnard, managing director of Bellis Energy, said: “A lot of care is taken in establishing whether an area is going to be viable. Known considerations are the proximity of people’s houses and access to the [national] grid.”

He said the site would be subject to archeological investigation.

“I would encourage people to come to the meeting and share their knowledge,” he said.

The villagers’ website is here