A company which wants to build an enormous solar energy farm on a site in Suffolk, equivalent in size to almost 65 football pitches, has had its hopes of winning planning permission for the scheme boosted by a High Court ruling.
Although Lark Energy Limited had been granted consent for a much smaller facility, it had set its heart on securing a 25-year permission to install more than 90,000 solar panels on a 46-hectare site adjacent to an airfield. The relevant local authority had refused permission for the larger scheme.
Following a public inquiry, an inspector recommended that consent be granted after finding that the development would have no significant environmental impact. However, he was overruled by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and planning permission was refused.
In allowing Lark Energy’s appeal, and directing the Secretary of State to reconsider the matter, the Court found that his assessment of the planning merits was ‘clearly at odds’ with that of his inspector. The reasons given in the decision letter gave rise to ‘genuine doubt’ as to whether the Secretary of State had correctly applied relevant landscape protection policies.