Bridgham Parish Council chairman “encouraged” after South Lopham solar rejection

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Following the high-profile rejection of a solar farm in South Lopham both the developer and opponents of a scheme that would see the largest solar farm in Norfolk built in Bridgham have been working out the ramifications.

Develepers REthink Energy, on behalf of farmer Peter Wright, hopes to build a 174-acre, 135,432 panel solar farm on land at Hall Farm and Field Barn Farm.

Proposals for a 47-acre solar farm in South Lopham were unanimously rejected by Breckland Council on July 7.

An application in Tattingstone, near Ipswich, for solar on similar quality land was rejected at appeal, which led to planning officers at Breckland Council changing their initial recommendation from approval to refusal.

Bridgham Parish Council chairman Mark Dickenson said he was encouraged by the rejection and the number of comments received.

Around 150 have been sent to the authority so far, with the majority opposing the plans.

“We have always said this Bridgham site has been used for crops for many, many years,” he said. “We do feel it is good quality land.”

Mr Dickenson said objectors had to comment again on the plans, as they had been withdrawn and a fresh application put to the council.

REthink founder Pete Grogan said support from organisations confirms the suitability of the site.

“The decision (South Lopham) seems to have turned in large part on land quality and visual impact. Our planning application provides a detailed and considered analysis of both issues and carefully explains the suitability of the site in respect of each.

“We applied robust site selection criteria at the outset and have always aimed to exceed the requirements of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework).

“The backing we have received from authoritative and experienced bodies who understand farming and the rural environment including the NFU, the CLA and the RSBP is testament to the strength of our application in this regard.”