Villagers fears 'Wild West land grab' by solar farms

Plans for a solar farm in Oulton near Aylsham have been approved. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

A solar farm in Bracon Ash has been submitted to South Norfolk Council. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Villagers are fearful of a "Wild West land grab" by solar farm companies in a rural community.

The concerns come as a landowner has applied to South Norfolk Council to convert 11.5ha of agricultural land off Marsh Lane in Bracon Ash, near Wymondham, into a solar park.

It is one of two solar farm applications for Bracon Ash - the other being off Cranes Road - and a similar application has been submitted to South Norfolk Council for Mulbarton, where one is already operational on Brick Kiln Lane.

Objecting to the Marsh Lane application on the council's website, Rachel Smith, from School Close in Bracon Ash, said: "This area seems to be turning into a Wild West land grab by solar farm

Online planning documents said the three-metre high panels, shielded by hedgerows, would generate 25,000kW of energy and the site would include a substation.

They added the applicant would use power from the solar farm, to be monitored remotely, wanted to "reduce their demand on the grid, enable them to become self-sufficient and reduce their carbon footprint".

Attempts have been made to contact the applicant, who has not responded.

Miss Smith added: "South Norfolk Council really has to take a step back, stop and think about the overall impact of so many solar farms in a relatively small area.

"If this does not happen, areas of the countryside will be irrevocably altered by too many solar farms too close to each other."

Colin Rudd, chairman of Bracon Ash and Hethel Parish Council, say s if Lotus Moves aweay it would be

Colin Rudd, chairman of Bracon Ash and Hethel Parish Council. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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Colin Rudd, chairman of Bracon Ash and Hethel Parish Council, said residents accepted the need for green energy but were concerned about the accumulative effect of solar farms on the area.

Nigel Legg, who represents Bracon Ash on South Norfolk Council, said the authority should look at the developments together.

He said the area "could be an industrialised corridor rather than being a nice country backwater".

Mr Legg added: "Some of the electricity is for London and the south east. Norfolk is getting the grief and London gets the electricity."

A South Norfolk Council spokesperson said: "Planning decisions made on any application will consider the proposal on its own merits taking into account any cumulative impacts resulting from other development in the area."

The paper approached the applicant for comment.