A metal detectorist has claimed that an energy company has banned him from searching for King John’s lost treasure because of his plans for a new solar farm.
Martin Morris believes EDF Renewables (EDF R) is refusing access to the Sutton Bridge land as they fear their project will go ahead if historic features are found there.
But the company insists that it tried to reconcile its interests, without agreement.
Permission for a solar farm near Sutton Bridge power station, which EDF R says could provide electricity to more than 16,000 homes, was granted by South Holland Council last year. The first works are currently in progress.
This is a separate investigation from that carried out by Raymond Kosschuk, who is convinced he found the treasure at an undisclosed site at Sutton Bridge using equipment he designed.
King John lost the treasure to The Wash during an ill-fated crossing on October 12, 1216 – just days before the unpopular monarch died at Newark Castle.
Mr Morris, who identifies himself as Metal Detector Man, said his interest in the earth dates back more than a decade after he found an object linked to Queen Matilda at King John Bank.
He believes he knows where the loot is and says he signed a license agreement with EDFR allowing access to the land – a claim disputed by the company – before being banned from it last fall.
An excerpt from a letter from this period stated that it was “simply not possible” to allow access due to development.
But Mr Morris, of Gedney, said this week: ‘The reason they won’t let me on the land is that if I find anything it becomes a heritage site and they can’t build solar farm.”
He says he shared information with the company and fears they will take credit if the loot is found later.
He said, “If we don’t seek him, we won’t find him.”
But EDFR development manager Darren Cuming said: “EDF has already offered access to a metal detector at the Sutton Bridge site on the basis that it was clear which area needed to be surveyed and that the correct documents were completed and delivered within the required time frame, however these requirements were not met.
“Before planning consent was granted, we carried out a cultural heritage assessment and complied with all other planning requirements to ensure the site was suitable for development.
“Sutton Bridge is an excellent site for solar energy as it has sufficient sunlight and will provide low carbon renewable electricity to over 16,000 homes each year. It is an essential element in strengthening the UK’s energy security and reaching net zero.
The company also says its plans were “widely consulted” before clearance was granted.
Heritage groups such as Historic England also raised no objections to the request at the time.