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How CAN this be a green scheme? It’s some of Britain’s most fertile land – yet there’s a plan to cover 2,800 acres of it with ugly solar panels

The January sun slanting low across the beautiful Suffolk countryside casts a wintry light over the 600 acres owned by Nick Wright, as he talks proudly about the land he has farmed for the last 25 years.

Only a few miles from the racing town of Newmarket, the field we are standing in is devoted one year to rows of shimmering wheat, the next to potatoes of such high quality that Marks & Spencer are among his customers. As Nick explains, it all depends on the light, sandy and easily irrigated soil which has long seen East Anglia referred to as ‘Britain’s breadbasket’.

‘It really is prime arable land,’ says Nick, pointing out the stacks of newly harvested sugar-beets and onions which, along with carrots, and parsnips, are among the many crops grown in the region.’

Covering 2,792 acres, equivalent to 2,115 football pitches, the new solar-farm will be more than 12 times the size of Shotwick Solar Park in North Wales

You might imagine that farmland like this would be all the more prized given the food shortages faced by the country of late. But if proposals currently being considered by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate go through, compulsory purchase orders could be used to turn this very green and pleasant land into Britain’s biggest-ever ‘solar farm’.

Covering 2,792 acres, equivalent to 2,115 football pitches, it will be more than 12 times the size of Shotwick Solar Park in North Wales, the UK’s largest such facility built to date.

The company behind the proposals is Sunnica Ltd — a joint venture between British company Tribus Energy and PS Renewables, the trading name of Spanish company Padero Solaer.

With claims it will provide enough electricity to power 100,000 homes annually, the website promoting the ‘Sunnica Energy Farm’ promises it will help meet ‘the urgent national need for new, renewable, means of energy generation’.

What it doesn’t mention is the local opposition being coordinated by Nick and others in the Say No To Sunnica action group, which has more than 1,000 members in the 14 affected parishes.

Nick’s farm would be surrounded by the scheme, which would cover four separate sites on the Suffolk-Cambridgeshire border. Although none of his land is required for the solar panels themselves, he, like many landowners, has been asked to allow parts of it to be used for the 15 miles of cabling which will connect them to the National Grid substation at nearby Burwell.

This snakes around many of the surrounding villages and hamlets, many of which feature defiant ‘Say No To Sunnica’ signs on verges and in front gardens.