Another solar farm planning application has gone in, this time south of the A1066 between South Lopham and Garboldisham on high quality agricultural land.
Now I am a supporter of renewable energy, I have panels on my garage roof and in a small way doing my bit helping to keep the lights on.
In pursuit of their green ambitions the government has thrown huge amounts of money at renewable energy expecting that solar panels would be put on factory and warehouse roofs, brownfield land and agricultural lands of little quality. However, given the cash available and pathetically weak planning rules any piece of land has become a viable target and government is now wringing its hands, issuing guidance to underline that their original intentions not to use high grade land should be adhered too.
The problem is no one in the solar industry and more importantly council planners are listening.
The developers of solar farms will tell you that they are relatively unobtrusive, sympathetic to the surrounding area, easy to deploy, commercially proven, reliable and encourage wildlife. The reality is that they are only unobtrusive if compared to the impact on the landscape of on shore wind farms and massive factory or warehouse buildings. They sympathetically cover the countryside in acres of metal surrounded by security fences and CCTV cameras. Easy to deploy, I will give them that.
Commercially proven but only with massive subsidy which we all pay for, and how do we know that they will be reliable when they have only been around for a few years? As for encouraging wild life; the same results can be achieved by farmers leaving uncultivated boundaries around the edges of their fields.
Land is a finite resource under increasing pressure from our growing population which needs to be housed and fed. The current frenzy of solar farm developments is adding further pressure. The proposed development in South Lopham is on the best agricultural land in this area. I would like to see our farm land produce food not high cost, low efficiency solar power. There is plenty of room for solar panels on roof tops.