Fears over Norfolk giant solar panels

Concerns have been raised about plans for 30 giant solar panels being installed on an industrial site.

Geoff Martin, who has lived in Little Melton Road for about 25 years, believes the development at Little Melton Food Park will be a 'blot on the landscape' and affect his residential amenities.

The food production and cold storage facility successfully gained planning permission last month to install the panels –9.7m by 6.4m in size – on a 1.36ha (3.36 acre) field next door. The panels will follow the path of the sun by tracking horizontally and vertically throughout the day. The owners say this will produce 462,089kWh of electricity a year, equating to 25pc of what is currently consumed at the site.

Applicant and owner, RS Baker and Sons Ltd, hopes that with food companies and retailers becoming increasingly aware of their energy usage, the panels will aid the food park's competitiveness.

The application was unanimously supported by members of South Norfolk Council's planning committee after the authority's planning officers judged that the panels would not have a significant impact on the amenities of neighbours.

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But despite no residents raising any formal objections, Mr Martin believes some living close by are concerned that the once rural corner of the parish is becoming 'too industrialised'.

He confessed he had not officially lodged his worries with the council because he was unsure how seriously his views would be taken.

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Mr Martin added: 'Certainly some people I have spoken to do not want this in the area. It is going to affect our quality of life in some way. It's going to be a large scale building for a start. Consider the length of time that's going to take and then there's the maintenance and the upkeep. Traffic obviously is a major worry.'

Hethersett Parish Council and Little Melton Parish Council offered no objections to the scheme.

Hethersett chairman John Nightingale said: 'We expected quite a large response but it didn't happen. We had a similar thing with the wind turbine at the high school. No one objected and then lots of people complained afterwards. We shall watch this space.'

Little Melton chairman John Heaser added: 'I don't think people see a problem with it. It's an industrial site so it's not going to lessen the visual amenity of anyone. I think it generally a good thing if people are going to generate their own energy.'

The owners of the Little Melton Food Park declined to comment.

Are you fighting a planning application where you live? Contact the newsdesk on 01603 772443 or email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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