Energy firm hopes to build Norfolk’s largest solar farm outside village

Farmland near Bridgham, Norfolk, which could become a solar farm.

Farmland near Bridgham, Norfolk, which could become a solar farm. - Credit: Archant

Swathes of farmland could be covered with solar panels under plans put forward by developers.

Reading-based firm Rethink Energy wants to build Norfolk's biggest solar farm to the west of Bridgham, near Thetford, at Hall Farm and Field Barn Farm.

A planning application has been submitted to Breckland Council by Norwich-based property agents Ward Hill for the 70-hectare site which will include an estimated 144,288 solar panels and 75 security cameras.

The applicants say that the farmland will still be used for sheep grazing as the panels will be raised off the ground.

It adds that trees and hedgerows will remain and in some areas be thickened to hide the solar farm.

There will also be a 2.5m-high wire mesh fence and security gates surrounding the panels and substation,

The solar farm is expected to last for 25 years and will have an output of 30 megawatts.

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The application states: "The land stands in a relatively isolated location away from residential properties.

"The site's relatively remote location and limited views from public vantage points, outside the site, makes it an ideal location for the siting of a new solar energy farm."

If given the go-ahead by the council, the project is expected to take 16 to 20 weeks to build.

A public exhibition on the solar farm was held in Bridgham in May and the development is expected to spark opposition in the village.

Bridgham Parish Council will discuss the bid at their next meeting on Tuesday, July 2, at 7.30pm in the village hall.

One representation made to Breckland Council states: "This will have a visually detrimental effect to the village as a whole.

"It is also extremely likely to reduce the value of properties in the area."

Results from the consultation held in Bridgham on May 14 only collected a handful of responses but they showed a majority were against the solar farm being built citing the plans were poor use for farmland and were far too large.

If built the solar farm would be almost twice as large as the second largest one in Norfolk which is planned for Egmere.

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