Plans to build a vast solar farm have been rejected, after councillors warned it would mean an unacceptable loss of agricultural land. 

The 172-acre solar farm - roughly the size of 86 football pitches - would have been capable of generating enough renewable energy to power approximately 12,000-14,000 homes, with battery storage for times when the sun was not shining. 

West Norfolk Council (WNC) planning officials had recommended the scheme for approval

It was, however, rejected after councillors raised concerns about the loss of farmland at the site located on Harps Hall Road at Walton Highway, near Wisbech.

Fraser Blackwood, a speaker in support of the scheme, told WNC's planning committee that approving the scheme would not impact food production.

Eastern Daily Press: A view across part of the proposed solar farm site. PICTURE: GoogleA view across part of the proposed solar farm site. PICTURE: Google (Image: Google)

He said crops grown on the site are used to power an anaerobic digester - a plant which uses organic waste and crops to create biomethane that can be used to produce power.

He also insisted it would help the country meet energy security needs, helping address rising prices following the war in Ukraine.

Eastern Daily Press: Terry ParishTerry Parish (Image: (C) ARCHANT NORFOLK 2016)

Independent councillor Terry Parish said: “This land, 58pc of it is good or better [quality] farming land and could be used for crops. 

“I’ve voted against growing crops for anaerobic digestion because I think farming land should be used growing crops for people to eat.” 

Mr Parish argued that energy could be produced from other sources but food could not. 

However, Green councillor Michael de Whalley argued that solar has one of the lowest carbon footprints of energy generation and would help with decarbonising society. 

The scheme was rejected with 14 votes against, two for and one abstention.