Developer confident Bridgham solar farm appeal will succeed

Bridgam residents protesting against the proposed 174 acre solar farm earlier last year. Photo: Ray Mumford. ANL-140219-151244001

Bridgam residents protesting against the proposed 174 acre solar farm earlier last year. Photo: Ray Mumford. ANL-140219-151244001

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The developers behind rejected plans for what would have been the largest solar farm in Norfolk claim the decision was a “quite extraordinary misapplication of planning policy.”

Breckland Council planners voted 7-3 against the plans for Bridgham, submitted by REthink Energy on behalf of farmer Peter Wright.

It would have seen about 120,000 solar panels installed on 174 acres of agricultural land, standing for 25 years and generating enough power for 10,000 homes.

Pete Grogan, REthink founder, told the Diss Express: “The decision notice has finally been published. In our view it demonstrates a quite extraordinary misapplication of planning policy.

“The proposal we submitted delivers for a broad range of stakeholders and has the support of a large majority of local Breckland constituents who we believe have been badly let down by their Councillors.

“We have every confidence the application will succeed on appeal.”

A statement from Breckland Council read: “Members of the Breckland Council Planning Committee refused the application as they considered the proposed development to be contrary the Council’s adopted policies in respect of amenity (DC1) and (CP11). These policies require the highest protection of the Brecks landscape and the Committee determined that the impact of the solar farm on the undulating site, which is adjacent to the village of Bridgham, was unacceptable and would result in a prominent and alien feature in that landscape.

“Considering the matter of agricultural land and the impact on food production, Members concluded that the development would result in the loss of large areas of grade 3 land which is considered to be of good to moderate quality and had previously been actively farmed. The loss of such land is not supported by the

“National Policy Planning Framework requirements which encourage the use of previously developed land or poorer quality land over the better quality land areas for solar farm developments.

“Members noted that the council had received 141 letters received objecting to the development with only 17 supporting it.”