December 12 2013 Latest news:
Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The director of a family-run business behind a controversial north Norfolk solar farm has said he is “really happy” after plans to erect the installation were approved.
Put in by applicant Genetec, councillors at North Norfolk District Council approved the plans at today’s (Thursday) development committee to install 15,300 individual solar panels across eight hectares of land at Pond Farm, Bodham.
Genetec recently caused a stir by bidding for a 86.5m turbine in the same location - a move that was rejected by NNDC but then agreed by a planning inspector at appeal earlier this year.
NNDC is now challenging the decision by the inspector at the High Court, with a full-day hearing lined up on January 22 next year.
And like the turbine, the solar farm proposal split opinion at the meeting.
Barbara Powell, member of Beckham East and West parish council and local resident, objected to the application claiming it would be an “alien feature” on the landscape.
She urged to council to wait before making a decision in case of “unidentified problems” and also raised concerns over the loss of agricultural land and lack of sufficient screening.
Councillor Anthea Sweeney echoed Mrs Powell’s concerns. She said: “I feel we are being overwhelmed with an industrial landscape.”
She also highlighted fears that increased traffic would cause problems and pose a danger, especially at the Holt Road junction near Sheringham Park.
But, as stated in the report, the agricultural land is described as low-grade and therefore suitable for a project such as this one and also a one-way system would be put in place to direct the traffic flow associated with the development.
The solar farm would generate the equivalent energy to power 610 homes annually.
Councillor John Perry-Warnes welcomed the application and praised the report for “covering all the aspects of the application and covering them well”.
Nine councillors voted for the application, with one against and two abstaining.
Conditions will be imposed on the application, including that the landscaping commences immediately and will meet certain criteria, such as height and regular maintenance.
David Mack, director of family-run business Genetec, said: “We are just really happy with the result. We hope to get on with the project now and start its construction.”