Skip to main content

Sunnica Ltd is proposing a Solar Energy Farm across three sites in East Cambridgeshire and West Suffolk. The proposal will be determined by the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. The proposal includes solar panels and electrical battery storage, and associated infrastructure for connection to the national grid, including an extension to the Burwell National Grid Substation.

The project falls into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process defined through the Planning Act 2008 (as amended), and will be considered under Part 3 Section 14 of the legislation because it has a generating capacity of over 50 megawatts (see section 15(2) of the 2008 Act). Responsibility for accepting and examining the NSIP application rests with the Secretary of State and not the local authorities, who are identified as statutory consultees, or ‘host’ authorities, in the NSIP process.

As the proposal spans Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, there are four ‘host’ authorities (Cambridgeshire County Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council) involved in this NSIP project. All four ‘host’ planning authorities have undertaken to work together as far as possible to ensure full scrutiny of this project is undertaken.

Have your say

It is important to note that as the ‘host’ planning authorities are not the determining authorities, any correspondence in relation to this matter needs to be directed to Sunnica Ltd in the first instance and then the Planning Inspectorate. Sunnica Ltd’s website contains further information on the proposal.

For further details of the NSIP process for this project, please visit the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) website.

Examination

Throughout the Examination period (September 2022 to March 2023), Cambridgeshire County Council submitted responses as required by the Planning Inspectorate, including a Local Impact Report (produced jointly with West Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council, and East Cambridgeshire District Council), and Written Representation, amongst others. All submissions can be found in the Examination Document Library.

The Examination closed on 28 March 2023. The Examining Authority had three months following the end of examination to write its summary report and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State. This report was issued to the Secretary of State on 28 June 2023. The Examining Authority’s recommendation report is only made public once a decision has been made by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then had three months in which to make a decision, however, on 20 September 2023 a statement confirming the new deadline for the decision was made to the House of Commons and House of Lords (UK Parliament website), in accordance with section 107(7) of the Planning Act 2008. A decision was due to be made on 7 December 2023.

The Secretary of State set new deadlines to make a decision on this application, which was initially 7 March 2024 and then 11 April 2024. Statements confirming these new deadlines for the decision were made to the House of Commons and House of Lords, in accordance with section 107(7) of the Planning Act 2008.

The Secretary of State has now decided to re-set the statutory deadline to make a decision on this application to 20 June 2024. A statement confirming the new deadline for the decision has been made to Parliament, in accordance with section 107(7) of the Planning Act 2008.

More information can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s webpage for this project.