PLANS for a huge solar farm in Purleigh to power thousands of homes have been refused by Maldon District Council.

The solar farm would have been built on a site in Hackmans Lane and would have seen panels on the land for 40 years.

Duncan Howie, land director at Anglo Renewables, told a council planning meeting he would set out “compelling reasons” why the council should support the bid.

The proposal had already been recommended for approval by a planning officer.

Mr Howie said: “Solar is a source of cheap power, something we badly need as we are gripped by the cost of living crisis.

"Solar also provides much-needed energy security for this nation, reducing our reliance on foreign fuel imports. 

“Solar is renewable power and we must take action at a local level to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels and tackle climate change.”

He added: “Maldon District Council has declared a climate emergency and published a climate action strategy with aspirations to be a carbon neutral district by 2030.

“To lead by example and encourage businesses, residents and parishes to make positive changes. Reduce use of oil, natural gas and coal, and support the green energy sector to secure low cost, low carbon energy supplies.

“The delivery of this solar farm will help meet all of those aspirations and tackle climate change at a local level.

Mr Howie said the proposed landscaping and ecology would result in a 77 per cent biodiversity net gain and a 46 per cent increase in hedgerows.

He said: “In conclusion, this application is strongly supported by policy, has no statutory consultee objections and your planning officer has, in her professional judgment, concluded that the application should be approved.

“I hope all the benefits to you, the nation and our environment will bring you to that same conclusion and that you can vote in favour of this application.”

Another speaker, Ms Middleton, represented nearby properties the Crib, the Warren and Ivy House, which are just 140 metres away from the proposed site.

She suggested the application should be looking at brownfield sites and addressed concerns over noise.

During the meeting, councillor Adrian Fluker proposed the bid be refused.

He said: “It hasn’t been demonstrated that the subjective issue of harm versus benefit weighs in favour of development.”

The application was refused.