Villagers in Bridgham battle solar farm plans as decision day looms

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A decision day is looming as residents of a small village battle against plans for a solar farm which they say will be one of the largest in the UK.

Councillors on a planning committee at Breckland Council will vote at the end of the month as to whether to allow a solar farm to be built on a 174 acre site at Hall Farm and Field Barn in Bridgham.

Rethink Energy who are behind the plans say the panels will be a maximum of 2.7 metres high and screened by hedging.

But parish council chairman Mark Dickenson said: “We are not anti solar farms we just feel it is the wrong site.

“It would be three or four times the size of the village and would be one of the largest solar farms in the UK.

“It is right on the entrance to the village, they are offering to have hedging but it will still be visible, it is close to several properties, it is next to a stone curlew protection zone and an area of special landscapee quality.

“If it was the edge of the A11 or the railway line then fine – but this is the wrong site. It would need 14km of cabling through four villages to Thetford to join the National Grid.

“And it is not meeting an electricity shortfall in Thetford – the power would serve London and the South East,

“There is very strong feeling in this village against this proposal. I’ve not heard anyone speak in favour of it. There are poster on gates and lamposts. I’ve not known anything like it before.”

A large number of residents have objected to Breckland Council ahead of the meeting, some of them raising health concerns over the scheme.

Breckland Cllr Ellen Jolly, who represents the village said: “We understand we have to have green energy but the main problem is with the size of what is being proposed.”

Fellow ward Cllr Marion Chapman-Allen is a substitute member of the planning committee and so has to be careful not to prejudice her vote.

“I am aware how strongly local people are opposed to the solar farm,” she said.

An agent on behalf of Rethink Energy was unavailable for comment.