80 foot 'golf ball' radar tower rejected for Norfolk village

Breckland planning committee rejected plans for a Met Office radar tower

Breckland planning committee rejected plans for a Met Office radar tower - Credit: Archant, inset: Met Office

Plans for an 80-foot “golf ball” radar tower in a small Norfolk village have been rejected, with councillors going against officers' recommendations.  

A Met Office radar tower on Abbey Road in Old Buckenham was rejected by Breckland’s planning committee on Wednesday, after facing stiff opposition from residents, parish councils and the local MP.  

Parish Councillor Andy Nicholls argued the location "makes no sense", with other Met Office radars in remote locations away from homes.  

George Freeman MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Breckland MP George Freeman wrote to the council to raise resident's concerns - Credit: Ian Burt

Alison Gilmore, a local resident, agreed calling it an “absurd location” and describing the structure as looking like a white golf ball.   

She added: “This will be the closest radar to any residential home or any runway in the UK, just 40 meters to the property next door.”  

Council officer Tom Donnelly recommended the development for approval, telling the committee officers considered the visual impact of the development to be acceptable.  

Entrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather ra

Entrance to the Anglian Water compound on Abbey Road, Old Buckenham, where the Met Office weather radar would be sited. Picture: Met Ofice - Credit: Met Office

A previous application for a 28.5m high radar tower was withdrawn in March 2020, over concerns it could impact the nearby Old Buckenham Airfield.  

Speaking on behalf of the Met Office, Jim Trice, told councillors the radar would collect data to help prevent flooding and give residents, businesses and farmers extra time to put severe weather measures in place.  

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Councillors debated the plans for over an hour, with councillor Roger Atterwill calling for a detailed survey to ensure no rare barbastelle bats - believed to nest nearby - would be affected by the development.  

Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill is warning communities will be up in armswhen reality sinks in.

Breckland councillor Roger Atterwill was among the planning committee members who voted against the application. - Credit: Archant

“A survey for bats should be carried out between May and September," he said. 

"Our survey, from what I can see was in December, I'm not convinced that was the right time. 

"It’s a protected species, so we need to make sure as an authority that we are satisfied." 

Councillors rejected deferring the application for the survey to be carried out.  

Location of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture

Location of the proposed weather radar tower on Abbey Road, close to Old Buckenham Airfield. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

Councillors then voted down the application outright, five votes to four, saying it would negatively impact the visual amenity and local ecology.  

Speaking after the meeting, Breckland MP George Freeman, who had raised concerns about the plans, welcomed the committee's decision.  

He added: “I am pleased that Breckland’s Planning Committee has listened to the views of local residents, businesses and elected officials – and should the Met Office seek to pursue another application, I offer again to help them find a more suitable, alternative site in Mid Norfolk.” 

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