DCSIMG

Shock change of mind of council planners over South Lopham solar farm

South Lopham, Norfolk. Some residents in South Lopham are unhappy with the proposed solar farm off the A1066. Pictured from left is  Alan Briggs, Bill Bedford, Gillian Ashdown and John Ashdown ENGANL00120130412122945

South Lopham, Norfolk. Some residents in South Lopham are unhappy with the proposed solar farm off the A1066. Pictured from left is Alan Briggs, Bill Bedford, Gillian Ashdown and John Ashdown ENGANL00120130412122945

Plans for a controversial solar farm in South Lopham have taken another twist after officers at Breckland Council recommended refusal on the project.

Earmarked for 47 acres of Grade 2 agricultural land south of the A1066 Thetford Road and submitted by AVIC-PCI Ltd, it could generate 10MW of power.

Officers at the council had initially recommended approval for the plans. But at a planning meeting on June 9, the final decision was deferred.

A spokesperson on behalf of the council cited an ‘appeal court decision’ for the deferral.

The decision on the proposal is now due at a planning meeting on Monday.

In the latest report, officers considered a solar farm development appeal at Valley Farm in Tattingstone near Ipswich, which was rejected on June 2. The decision supported campaigners concerns of building such a development on farmland.

The conclusion of the report read: “The proposal, for a change of use of agricultural land ... would be contrary to national planning guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular paragraph 112 which states that where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of higher quality.

“The proposal is therefore harmful, unnecessarily taking the best and most versatile land out of production for at least 25 years.”

Alan Briggs, co-ordinator of the Lophams Against Solar Farms group, said: “We are much happier than we were before. We feel now that Breckland Council are tapping into the latest decisions that have been made.

“Quite a number of people who have been instrumental in the objection campaign have actually got solar panels. I have got solar panels on my garage roof. We are not anti renewable or anti solar. We just feel there is better places to put them.”

A spokesperson on behalf of agent Richard Pike Associates told the Diss Express: “We are surprised and disappointed at the change made by the officers from approval to refusal at such a late stage.”

Breckland Council received 180 objections to the solar farm, which would house 34,000 panels.

 

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