Cheers and applause as plans for huge solar farm at Bridgham rejected

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland Council. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Controversial plans for a 30MW solar farm on the edge of Bridgham have been turned down by Breckland Council.

There were loud cheers and applause from the 30-strong crowd of campaigners against the plans after they were rejected at the council's Dereham offices this morning.

RE:Think Energy had been hoping for planning permission to install thousands of solar panels on the 70-hectare Hall Farm and Field Barn Farm site.

The site, which would have been operational for 25 years, was to be built half a mile from the centre of Bridgham on land currently used for arable farming.

The long-running saga over the plans has seen them entered, withdrawn and re-entered after objections were raised about their effect on the local environment, their visual impact, the loss of farmland, and a host of other complaints.

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And after hearing from speakers both for and against the plans, Breckland Council's planning committee members voted seven to three to reject them.

That was despite council officers recommending the plans for approval.

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The campaign against the solar farm was supported by Bridgham, Harling and Roudham and Larling parish councils.

Mark Dickenson, chairman of Bridgham parish council, spoke at the meeting and said afterwards that he was delighted with the decision.

'We're very pleased after how hard we've fought and we're pleased that councillors see things the same way as we do.

'It would have had an horrendous impact on the village so it's good news,' he said.

Peter Grogan, director of RE:Think Energy, was approached by the EDP after the meeting but declined to comment.

He had previously told the meeting that the new solar farm would power 8,500 local homes and create a 'rich and varied' habitat for wildlife.

He claimed the site would have no adverse visual impact on the area, and that the firm had altered the plans so as to limit the public's areas of complaint.

And despite Mr Dickenson's prior claims that of the 135 homes in Bridgham, only a handful were in favour of the scheme, Mr Grogan said the 'vast majority' of public in the area were in favour.

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