A giant solar farm on prime arable land at the gateway to the Norfolk Broads is one of three new schemes on the table.

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The plan for more than 57,000 panels on 73 acres of land has sparked some local concerns, with a council leader saying it would have a “terrible effect” on tourism.

A public consultation has seen villagers vote against it, while an action group has been formed to oppose the plan.

Trafford Solar Park wants to install the panels off Belaugh Road, Hoveton, claiming they would create enough electricity annually to power the equivalent of 2,600 homes.

The proposed development site is the size of more than 36 football pitches, is half a kilometre from Hoveton and 300 metres north of the Broads Authority boundary. The Bure Valley Railway Line runs along the site’s eastern edge.

The application is within the boundaries of both North Norfolk and Broadland district councils and will have to be approved by both planning authorities before it can be built. The application is expected to go to planning committees early next year.

The scheme is among a wave of solar farm applications expected to be submitted in the last few months, ahead of government proposals to reduce by 25pc financial support for solar installations larger than 5MW built after April 1 2013.

NNDC is currently considering applications for a 5.7MW solar farm on 34 acres of arable land at Strawberry Lane at Saxthorpe, submitted by Saxthorpe Solar Farm, and for a 12.74MW scheme on almost 70 acres of cropped farmland off Scottow Road, Scottow, made by Shaw Coltishall Solar Park.

Residents living near the proposed solar farms have expressed concerns about the impact on the countryside.

Norman Evans, chairman of Belaugh Parish Council, said the proposed solar farm site in Hoveton was grade II arable land, which was of particularly high quality and made up 16pc of the farmland in Norfolk.

He added: “I live in a national park in a conservation area. The general view of it will be terrible and will have an effect on tourism.

“Wroxham is the gateway to the Norfolk Broads. Solar farms are better placed on brownfield sites like Coltishall Airfield. We plan to fight it on every level we can.”

He said 60pc of villagers had responded to a public consultation and voted unanimously against the plans. Residents living near the proposed site have also formed their own action group against the scheme.

Jo Boxall, clerk to Corpusty and Saxthorpe Parish Council, said the council had objected to the scheme in the parish and intended to ask the planning officer to attend a public meeting in the village to explain the proposals. She said the wrong address for the site had been printed on the public notice, causing distress to some residents.

She added: “As far as the parish council is concerned the land is for food production, not energy production. The council has concerns about the fencing and the security system that would be needed and the fact several buildings would be going on the land.”

Vice chairman of Scottow Parish Council Trevor Bunting said he was in favour of solar energy but added: “I am concerned at the amount of good arable land being used here to generate power.”

NNDC has approved two large scale solar farms in the last two years, including one at Worstead on the edge of North Walsham in 2011 and another at Northrepps in 2012.

Broadland has also approved two solar farms in the last two years, including one at Rackheath in 2011 and another at Weston Longville in September this year.

8 comments

  • Mr. T, agree with your remarks fully.

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    Callum Ringer

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • I agree that solar panels should not be on good agricultural land. We need the land for produce and there are brownfield sites like the old RAF base at Coltishall that could easily be used. I too have solar panels and they are on my flat roof garage and have proven to be very efficient but wasting greenfield sites is not on.

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    Christopher Neave

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • Absolutely right Dr. JB, with rich land owners exploiting the subsidy system, fooling gullible taxpayers into believing that this is green, no wonder food prices going sky high. Solar panels should benefit individual taxpayers, not gobble up valuable agricultural assets.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • The worrying thing here is that these are just a few of the applications that are being made or considered around Norfolk. If they go ahead then the impact on the Norfolk countryside is significant. Norfolk people need to make their feelings felt and resist these developments. The rush for solar is encouraged by the temporary high tariffs. However this is not consistent with one of Government's other policies which is protecting UK Food Production. Norfolk is an essential part of UK Food Production. It is a disgrace that developments on high quality farmland like these are not immediately thrown out by planners.

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    Scott Pinching

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • I find it amazing that had an application been submitted for a single wind turbine the old antis would have had this page filled by now, yet hundreds of acres could be lost under solar panels and there is not a word, I also fully support solar panels, as I do wind power in the correct location, both on and offshore, but i struggle with the concept of covering the land with Solar panels, some of these proposals are so vast they will soon take over.

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    Mr T

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • Mr. T, agree with your remarks fully.

    Report this comment

    Callum Ringer

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • Very anti wind, quite pro solar. BUT there is no case for useable agricultural land being used for energy production, this includes biomass, solar etc. Agricultural land is for growing food. The same applies to the proposed housing at Sprowston. Now, nearby to all of these is the near perfect place for an enormous solar farm, it used to be called RAF Coltishall, and, as a bonus, solar panels around it would still allow it to be an airfield if required. It is also likely that a lot of the airfield land is contaminated so unusable for food production. Also, in this area, anything which adversely affects tourism must be prevented.

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    Windless

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

  • While I am in favour of solar panels (and have some on my house), they belong on buildings and not on agricultural land, which should be used to grow crops or as a wildlife haven. Buildings in towns and cities (and especially flat roofed buildings such as St. Stephen's Street in Norwich) should be used to hold solar panels, where no one will see them and the space is currently unused.

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    DrJB

    Monday, November 26, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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