Met Office to appeal over refusal of 80ft 'golf ball' weather radar tower

Old Buckenham and weather radar tower

The Met Office says it plans to appeal over refusal of a weather radar tower near Old Buckenham. - Credit: Archant/Met Office

The Met Office is to appeal against a decision to refuse plans for an 80-foot 'golf ball' radar tower in a small Norfolk village.

The weather radar tower on Abbey Road in Old Buckenham was rejected by Breckland’s planning committee in May, after facing stiff opposition from residents, parish councils and the local MP. 

A previous application for a 28.5m high radar tower was withdrawn in March 2020, over concerns from Old Buckenham Airfield, which said it would impact on aeronautical and safety issues.

Location of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture

Location of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

The Met Office, which currently operates a network of 15 weather radars across the UK, has confirmed it is to appeal the council’s planning refusal.

“Having considered the options we still hold the view that a weather radar in East Anglia is essential to the wellbeing of people throughout the region and further afield, providing improved severe weather and flood warnings that will protect lives and property, and that the Old Buckenham site is the best location for that weather radar,” it said.

Entrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather ra

Entrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather radar would be sited. Picture: Met Ofice - Credit: Met Office

Breckland councillors went against their own planning officers' recommendations to vote against the plans, five votes to four, in May, saying it would negatively impact the visual amenity and local ecology. 

Local residents had branded it an “absurd location” and described the proposed structure as looking like a white golf ball.   


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One of those who objected, Alison Gilmore, said: “This will be the closest radar to any residential home or any runway in the UK, just 40 meters to the property next door.” 

George Freeman MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland MP George Freeman wrote to the council to raise resident's concerns over the planned weather radar. - Credit: Ian Burt

Breckland MP George Freeman, who had raised concerns about the plans, has offered to help them find an alternative site in Mid Norfolk.

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The national weather service said the proposed site, within an Anglian Water compound off Abbey Road, had been chosen after a “thorough investigation” into a number of possible locations across the region.  

“This is the only potential site, out of the 16 investigated, that could provide 1km resolution coverage over the whole of Norfolk, right up to the coast line,” it added.

“The observations provided by this new radar will be particularly useful for immediate emergency response in times of extreme weather conditions, such as rapidly developing heavy showers and easterly snowfall events in East Anglia as seen in 2018 with the ‘Beast from the East’.”

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