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Solar farm near Swaffham throws open its doors to visitors

PUBLISHED: 14:11 07 July 2014

Visitors got the chance to look around the Burnstalks Solar Farm near Narford Hall. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Visitors got the chance to look around the Burnstalks Solar Farm near Narford Hall. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

A rare insight into the workings of a solar farm was given to members of the public when an operating site threw open its gates to visitors.

Burntstalks Solar Farm in Narford, just outside Swaffham, held an open day as part of the nationwide Solar Independence Day on Friday.

The event gave people the chance to take an hour-long tour of the 61-acre site, discover more about how the 130,000 solar panels absorb daylight to be used for electricity and ask questions about the impact of the farm on the land.

People travelled far and wide to take up the opportunity, including councillors from other districts and a couple from South Norfolk who live close to a proposed solar farm.

The event was hosted by solar energy firm Lightsource which operates the site.

Operations and maintenance technician Allan Hawkins, who carries out quarterly tests on the farm, said: “It’s very rare to give people the chance to visit the site, it’s effectively a power station so we can’t open it up to everyone.”

He added: “it’s good to give people the chance to have a look. People drive past these things and don’t know how they work.”

Burnstalks Solar Farm has been in operation since March last year and has a life-span of between 20 and 25 years. It is an 11.5-megawatt site which Lightsource says powers enough electricity for 3,800 homes.

Lesley and Michael Culling, who live in Yelverton, where Lightsource has lodged plans to build a 7.31MW solar farm at Avenue Farm, took the opportunity to visit Burnstalks Solar Farm as part of their fact-finding mission.

The couple, who live next door to the proposed site in their village, have objected to the plans and have been visiting other sites to discover more about solar farms and their locations.

Mrs Culling said: “This (the solar farm) is going to be our back garden. What has been proposed for Yelverton is in the wrong place, just outside the village, next to residents.

“This, I couldn’t find, it’s in an area of fields and you can’t see it - it’s hidden away. I think they (solar farms) are fine in the right place, in the wrong place they are not. “

Do you have a story from the Swaffham area? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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