Delight as solar farm near South Lopham is rejected

Residents campaign against the Lopham solar farm.

Residents campaign against the Lopham solar farm. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting plans for a 10MW solar farm on land near a village have spoken of their delight after the proposal was thrown out by Breckland District Council.

Objectors with the Lophams Against Solar Farms group had opposed AVIC-PCI Ltd's proposals to build the farm on a 19.07 hectare site south of Thetford Road, South Lopham.

However, the district council received 180 letters opposing the farm on the grounds that agricultural land was going to be used, which should remain for food production.

Alan Briggs, a member of Lophams Against Solar Farms, said: 'Obviously, we are very pleased with the fact that Breckland refused planning permission and particularly pleased by the fact that the decision by the planning committee was unanimous.'

He said he believed the tide was turning against solar farm developments on agricultural land after a number of applications were refused and appeals went against the developer.

Added to this, the government had provided further planning guidance that solar panels should be provided on roof spaces or brownfield sites, but not on agricultural land.

Mr Briggs said: 'This decision seemed to be picking up on that sentiment and that guidance, so we are pleased with that.'

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He said the roofs of empty industrial units were the best place to put the solar panels.

If approved, the 34,000 photovoltaic panels would have been laid out in rows running east to west along the farmland, which used to be used for the cultivation of sugar beet and oil seed rape.

The applicant had proposed to use the solar farm site for sheep grazing during the lifespan of the farm, which was set to be 25 years.

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