Go-ahead for massive solar farm at former RAF West Raynham

Solar farm. Chris Ison/PA Wire Solar farm. Chris Ison/PA Wire

Thursday, December 19, 2013
6:37 PM

Planners have given the go-ahead for one of England’s biggest solar farms to be built on a redundant Norfolk RAF airfield.

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The farm, which will feature nearly 200,000 solar panels, will be installed on about 91 hectares of land at the former RAF Raynham site, near Fakenham.

Members of North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) development committee approved applicant Good Energy’s plan by eight votes to three.

Consent is hedged with conditions listed in a report by planning officers which include the provision of at least £25,000 to repair the neighbouring grade two listed control tower, and talks with highways officials to agree an access route to the site during the construction period of up to 26 weeks.

And councillors added an extra condition, requiring Good Energy to rethink chopping down a copse on the site.

The applicant says it would cast a significant shadow on an area of solar panels but councillors did not believe it would make much difference.

Pauline Grove-Jones said: “It seems such a shame to lose it. It breaks up that huge sweep of panels with nothing happening among them.”

Richard Palmer spoke on behalf of Good Energy at the meeting. He said the 49.9MW farm would power about 11,000 average households.

The land was chosen because it had “a very high level of sunshine”, was a brownfield site, close to electric grid lines, relatively flat and slightly raised above the surrounding area, and it was well screened. The large hangars and control tower would still dominate.

He said they proposed planting extensive areas with wildflowers, mixed with grass, and were talking to a landowner about allowing sheep to graze the site during its 30-year lifespan. They would also be making an annual financial contribution to the local community.

John Perry-Warnes said: “It seems to me to be a good use of this land.”

The surrounding parish councils of Raynham, Helhoughton and Weasenham had not objected to the scheme.

Photographs were shown to the committee which showed that it would be difficult to see the solar farm from Weasenham Church or from the Helhoughton Conservation Area, answering two English Heritage objections.

Norfolk County Council’s historic environment service raised objections based on West Raynham’s Cold War heritage. It was home to the Central Fighter Establishment and became one of the primary Bloodhound missile sites in the country. Its central role in the Bloodhound system gave it national significance.

But Phil Godwin, NNDC’s conservation, design and landscape manager, concluded that there would be “relatively little inter-visibility’ between the site and nearby heritage assets.

He added that the public benefit of the electricity produced was so considerable that: “the development cannot, on this occasion, be resisted on built heritage grounds.”

5 comments

  • So, the subsidy suckers increase the electricity price yet again. And the output of this absurdity will be ZERO when its dark and next to ZERO when it's anything other than perfect conditions. Glad I'm not in fuel poverty, but those who are will, undoubtedly, be glad to help pay the subsidy suckers.

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    Windless

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • These panels should be on people's houses for the subsidy we all pay, not proffer the purses and profits of large land owners and subsidy chasers. The green energy solutions have been highjacked by the usual vested and connected interests. How come there are so few community energy projects that have come to fruition?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • How many houses could have been built on those 91 hectares, wouldn't that have been a better use of the land rather than craming new houses into existing high density areas?

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Yet another blot on the landscape... where are all the protesters when these people want to destroy the country side with these ugly monstrosities that are of no use to man nor beast... use the land for something sensible for goodness sake..

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Friday, December 20, 2013

  • Totally agree with Windless's comment. The whole green renewables industry is a complete joke, propped up by every energy user's inflated bills, making just a few individuals very wealthy taking subsidies. These things are a business not a solution, and if it wasn't for the subsidies we all have to pay, not a soul would be interested in them. There are only 2 winners in this, the land owner and the operator, the inflated claims of 'free energy' are fictional and exaggerated to hide the theft of hard earned users money by these company's. Don't even get me started on all the windmills that pop up everywhere in farmers fields blotting what used to be a picturesque county...............

    Report this comment

    Stebs

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

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

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