Solar farm vision reignites protest from villagers as scores of objections are made
13:18 17 July 2014
Controversial plans for a 40MW solar farm on the edge of a village have already attracted more than 100 letters of objection as it awaits a decision.
REThink Energy’s plan for the 174-acre facility at Hall Farm, Bridgham, has faced opposition from locals since it was first submitted last year.
New plans entered at the start of June have attracted a barrage of more than 100 objection letters to Breckland Council, with claims that the village will be “ruined” by the installation.
But there have also been numerous letters of support for the scheme.
A number of letters refer to the proposal being a potential “eyesore”.
Resident Elaine Hurrell branded the site a “monstrosity” in her letter: “This rural life will be turning into a scrapyard before our eyes if we do nothing to preserve it.”
Susan Eckholdt, of The Street, said allowing the development would be “an environmental crime”.
“The views from various points along the High Bridgham and Kilverstone roads are glorious, spiritually uplifting and must never be subjected to industrial development to feed the greed of a few,” she wrote.
Further concerns focused on the effects on wildlife, loss of agricultural land and possible noise from the solar farm.
REThink’s initial application was withdrawn last September just days before it was due before Breckland’s planning committee.
The company’s revisions have seen it pledge £200,000 to conservation efforts, should the plans be accepted.
Pete Grogan, REThink founder, said the solar farm would “enhance” the area’s biodiversity.
The application includes plans for sheep to be able to graze underneath the solar panels.
Supporters of the scheme cite the importance of renewable energy schemes and say the visual impact is not a “long-term issue”.
Richard Evans, a livestock farmer from West Harling, said he felt the site would be obscured from view from public roads.
“Extraordinarily, the topography of the two fields is such that they are much more hidden from the public roads than one imagines, so with a little more planting the visual impact would be minimal,” he said.
The majority of supporters did not live in Bridgham.
Ian Monson, Norfolk County Councillor for the Brecks, has previously come out in support of the application, saying solar farms on arable sites were “definitely beneficial to local wildlife.”
Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and the newly selected environment secretary, raised objections to the scheme when it was first entered. The plans are due to be decided on by Breckland Council in the coming months.
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