Plans submitted for a 71-acre solar farm along the Norfolk coast

A solar farm could be built on 71 acres of countryside along the Norfolk coast under a new scheme submitted for planning approval.

Lincolnshire-based applicant Lark Energy hopes to install more than 51,000 solar panel modules measuring up to 4m in length at a site off Ringstead Road in Thornham.

The company anticipates the 15MV solar farm will generate enough green electricity to power the equivalent of 3,600 homes a year and will operate at Lyng Farm for at least 25 years.

Lark Energy is also developing plans for a 150-acre solar farm - one of the country's biggest - on Ellough Airfield, near Beccles, with the intention of starting work on that project this year.

A report supporting the application suggests it would take 16 weeks to build the Thornham farm, which includes a substation, extensive fencing, 30 CCTV cameras and several smaller equipment buildings.

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'The site has been chosen by Lark Energy in conjunction with the landowner due to its size, aspect and position within the landscape that makes it ideal for maximising solar gain for generation of renewable electricity whilst also being well-screened from public view and in an area where it will create no unacceptable impacts,' the report continues.

A public exhibition on the scheme was held at the Lifeboat Inn at Thornham on August 15 and just under 30 people attended.

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Of the dozen people who completed a questionnaire, five said they strongly agreed with the proposals for a solar farm at the site, one person was not sure and seven failed to answer.

'Overall, all but one of the completed comments forms was either 'strongly supportive' or 'supportive'. One couple who did not sign in expressed support but were fearful of the precedent for its extension as the landowner has 2,500 acres,' according to the company's community involvement statement.

The document suggests some residents saw solar farms as a welcome alternative to wind turbines, agreeing with suggested benefits such as 'no noise' and 'low visual impact on surrounding landscape.'

But a number of concerns were raised about the project, including its impact on wildlife, the potential for expansion of the farm and the loss of views from local lanes and walking routes, which include Peddars Way.

West Norfolk Council is expected to make a decision on the application by mid December.

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