Anger at plans for solar farms at Hoveton, Saxthorpe and Scottow
16:17 26 November 2012
A giant solar farm on prime arable land at the gateway to the Norfolk Broads is one of three new schemes on the table.
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.