Solar farm approved despite concerns over impact on neighbours

The site that could be given over to solar panels

The site set to be taken over by solar panels - Credit: Google Street View

An 87-acre solar farm close to the Marriott's Way has been approved despite concerns over the impact it will have on locals.

The plans will see a solar farm constructed on two sites north of The Street, Cawston - just 660 meters from the Marriott's Way - on a piece of land roughly equivalent to the size of 49 football pitches.

It is the second time proposals for the project have been heard by Broadland District Council.

A previous application was rejected in 2020 because the development was considered to be on high-quality farmland and the loss of food-producing land was judged not to outweigh the renewable energy generation benefits.

At a planning meeting on Wednesday morning, a council officer said the developers had reduced the panelled area to 63 acres, keeping the remaining highest-quality land for farming.

Alison Shaw, of Oulton Parish Council, opposed the development saying solar panels should be built on roofs or brownfield sites.

This was echoed by Liberal Democrat councillor Sue Catchpole, who criticised the government for a lack of guidance on where solar farms should go.

Steve Riley, who is the new Broadland District councillor for the Aylsham ward.

Steve Riley called for the plan to be rejected - Credit: Archant

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She said: "Random, ad-hoc sitings, without due consideration of the impact on the wellbeing of local inhabitants should not be allowed to continue. 

"This is a country lane already destined to be blighted by traffic to and from the two depot sites for the offshore wind farm developments over many years to come. 

"The cumulative impact of both these and the solar farm will, without doubt, be detrimental to the local population's enjoyment of the area." 

John Ward, Conservative councillor for Sprowston. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

John Ward said the plans were "essential" - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Steve Riley said he did not see much difference between this development and the previous proposal and put forward a recommendation to reject the plan, which was defeated.

Peter Grubb, an agent speaking on behalf of the developer Docking Farm Solar Ltd, said they had revised the scheme to avoid using the highest grade farmland, urging the committee to support the application to help tackle climate change.

The committee approved the plan, with John Ward saying he could not see a reason to reject the application, which he said would be "essential" as people move to electric vehicles.