Proposals for a large solar site to be built on farmland in Norfolk have been rejected due to concerns about the loss of land for food production.
Regener8 Power submitted a planning application for a solar farm and battery storage facility on about 44.5ha of land north of Fring Road, Sedgeford – a village three miles south-east of Hunstanton.
A total of 31,800 solar panels plus the associated infrastructure were proposed for the Grade 3b farmland, which is mainly used for crops plus some free-range pigs.
West Norfolk Borough Council’s planning committee met on Monday 7 November to consider evidence and vote on the application.
Ten councillors voted in favour of rejecting the solar farm proposal, with six in favour and one abstention.
Cherie Gregoire, business and project development lead at Regener8, had told the meeting that the proposed site would supply electricity for 3,500 homes and the battery storage facility would supply energy to the local grid at peak times.
Concerns about the possible effect on curlews in the area had also been addressed, with the RSPB raising no objections after reviewing the environmental assessment, Ms Gregoire added.
Countryside charity CPRE Norfolk objected to the plans.
Responding to a consultation, the charity said: “CPRE Norfolk fully acknowledges and supports the need for solar energy generation, but this should not be sited on food-producing, attractive countryside.
“In particular, research shows there are 250,000ha of existing south-facing commercial roof space in the UK, sufficient to provide approximately 50% of our energy needs.
“In addition, other suitable brownfield and domestic sites are much more appropriate locations for solar energy generation than productive and attractive agricultural land.”