The Secretary of State, Eric Pickles has granted planning permission for Lark Energy’s 24MW solar farm on Ellough Airfield in Suffolk.
The solar farm has been at the centre of a long-running dispute between Lark Energy and Eric Pickles after the secretary of state overturned planning permission in October 2013.
Pickles’ backtrack follows a High Court ruling nine months ago which quashed the secretary of state’s decision to deny planning permission for the project despite having Planning Inspectorate approval at the time.
Jo Wall, development director at Lark Energy said that the company was “very pleased” that Pickles has now granted consent. She continued: “We were always concerned about the legality of the Secretary of State’s original decision as it appeared to have been made without due regard to the local plan. This was confirmed last year in the High Court.”
Wall added that she hoped the project and the resulting legal fallout would help deliver “far more rational planning decision being taken on renewable energy projects in the future”.
However, Wall voiced concerns about the apparent political motivation behind limiting solar farm deployment. She said: “It would seem that some elements of the government wish to prevent large-scale solar developments even where the majority of the public supports them. This is in stark contrast to the treatment afforded the far less popular fracking and nuclear industries and is difficult for the many SMEs engaged in the solar sector to understand.”
During the dispute, Lark Energy won planning permission to install a smaller 14MW solar farm at the site which has now been constructed and connected to the grid.