July 25 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
These month-old lambs look quite at home grazing under the shade of a 14 megawatt solar farm.
About 100 sheep, along with their energetic newborns, have moved on to Nova Scotia Farm, off the A149 between Caister and Ormesby, where they are happily sharing the field with 56,000 solar panels.
Landowner David Cargill, whose family has farmed the 71 acre (28ha) site since the 1920s, is one of a number of British farmers leasing prime land to generate solar power.
Mr Cargill, who lives in Suffolk but runs arable and cattle farms across Norfolk, said it was a departure from traditional use but “you have to move with the times”.
And with construction of the solar farm now complete, sheep belonging to Mr Cargill’s neighbouring farmer Robin Shreeve are getting to work “maintaining” the site by grazing between the panels.
“We’ve planted some short grass with clover in and eventually we’d like to have sheep across the whole site,” said Mr Cargill.
“Barley was the last crop on here and within a week they have done a good job of clearing what was left.”
It is hoped wild fauna will eventually join the flock.
Nicola Waters, project director with London-based Primrose Solar, said: “We’re not just about building solar farms and walking away; we try to make the sites biodiverse and we should come up to the site quite regularly to count the butterflies and bees.”
Work on the solar farm started last November after it was granted planning permission by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
Owner Primrose Solar previously estimated the farm will generate enough electricity each year to power the equivalent of 4,161 average UK homes and save 7,264 tons of CO2 annually.
This week it has produced an average of 55,000kWh per day – enough to power 5,000-6,000 homes.
An average household uses between 3,000-4,000kWh/year.
Mr Cargill said leasing his fields for renewable energy “brought a level of security” that arable farming would not.
“We get a quarterly payment so it’s a proportion of the risk away,” he said.
What do you think of using farm fields for two purposes? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.