West Suffolk Council is calling for the UK's biggest solar farm application to be refused, saying it could have a 'damaging impact' on local communities and businesses.

The application by Sunnica Ltd to build its solar and battery plant would see sites built across the border between east Cambridgeshire and west Suffolk, including Mildenhall, West Row, Freckenham and Worlington.

West Suffolk Council's Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, November 8, was the first opportunity in the planning process for the council to publicly debate the matter.

Cabinet members voted unanimously against the plans and will now call on the secretary of state not to grant approval.

Councillor David Roach, cabinet member for planning at West Suffolk Council, said: "We are absolutely committed to solar and other renewable energy as part of our work to help tackle the climate change emergency.

"But the Sunnica proposals for four sprawling sites across two districts connected with underground cables is simply too big and it's not the right location."

Bury Mercury: Councillor David Roach, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for planning.Councillor David Roach, West Suffolk Council cabinet member for planning. (Image: West Suffolk Council)

Cllr Roach added: "If it is given the go-ahead, it could have a damaging impact on our communities, their homes and businesses, as well as to nature, the landscape and more.

"That is why we are calling on the Secretary of State not to grant the application."

The council says it already supports the principle of renewable energy, including solar power, having installed solar panels on the roofs of businesses, community and public buildings.

It also owns one of the largest council-owned solar farms at Toggam Farm near Lakenheath but, at 17.5 hectares, Toggam Farm is 35 times smaller than the Sunnica proposals.

The Sunnica proposal is currently being examined by the government's Planning Inspectorate and a decision is expected in four months' time - in late March 2023.

Previously, members of the Say No to Sunnica Community Action Group have urged residents to take their "last chance" to voice their concerns before the application progresses any further.

Local town and parish councils have also raised issues and both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk county councils have stated that they are unable to support the Sunnica proposal.

Bury Mercury: West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has been vocal in his opposition to Sunnica.to the plansWest Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has been vocal in his opposition to Sunnica.to the plans (Image: UK Parliament)

West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has been vocal in his opposition to the plans and said: "I support solar developments locally where they are in the right place, but the way Sunnica continue to go about their business is completely wrong.

"We must continue to fight this."