Joy in village as solar farm plans are rejected

Residents of North and South Lopham gathered at the village hall to show their opposition to a proposed solar farm. ANL-141003-121148001
Residents of North and South Lopham gathered at the village hall to show their opposition to a proposed solar farm. ANL-141003-121148001

There were celebrations in a south Norfolk village after Breckland Council unanimously rejected plans for a solar farm on Monday.

The development was proposed for land south of the A1066, Thetford Road.

Submitted by AVIC-PCI Ltd, it was earmarked for 47 acres of land, and would have featured 34,000 solar panels.

The controversial plans, initially recommended approval by officers, were set to be decided on June 9, but were deferred following an appeal court decision.

A similar application in Tattingstone, near Ipswich, by which a solar farm would have been built on similar quality land, was rejected at appeal.

Following that decision, officers changed their recommendation to refusal.

Co-ordinator of the Lophams Against Solar Farm group, Alan Briggs, said he was pleased- but said this was not the end of the saga.

“I am very pleased - particularly with the fact it was a unanimous refusal. That is obviously as good as it could get.

Recent government guidance and planning decisions helped the cause, Mr Briggs said.

He added:“The fact we had so many objections and three parish councils (against it) and an objector representative singing from the same hymn sheet could only be to the good.

“Any appeal is their problem at the moment, not mine. As objectors we are not so naive to think this is the end of the story and we will keep abreast of what is happening.

“If they do appeal we will be watching carefully what they say and what they do.”

The local district councillor, William Nunn, conceded the offer of solar farms on agricultural land is tempting to farmers, with himself being approached in the past for renewable energy plans on his own land.

But he said it is “not the right thing to do” on quality agricultural land.

“I am very pleased with the committee’s decision on this,” he said. “There was huge local objection to the whole concept of solar on good agricultural land and I think the committee has done the right thing by supporting the local community.

“For far too long the government has had an open ticket for solar, that it was solar at any cost almost.

“I support the concept of solar in the right place but not at any cost.

“It is being driven by subsidies.”

He added that decisions such as this and Tattingstone could have implications for future developments, including a proposed 174-acre solar farm in Bridgham.

The Diss Express contacted agent Richard Pike Associates but did not receive a comment.

Breckland Council received 180 objections to the controversial plans.

n What do you think? Was Breckland Council right to reject this application? Is your town or village subject to similar applications? Email