Agenda item

Egmere - RV/23/1241 - Variation of condition 4 (operational life and decommissioning period) of planning permission PF/19/1398 (Construction of 20 mw solar photovoltaic farm with associated works including inverter housing) to add an additional 13 years on the current planning consent, until 24 October 2052, at Solar Farm, Bunkers Hill, Wells Road, Egmere, Norfolk


Officer’s report


The SPO introduced the Officers report and recommendation for approval. He advised that since the publication of the agenda the NPPF had been updated, however the modifications related on onshore wind developments and therefore would not materially alter the Officers assessment.


The SPO affirmed the sites’ location and context in its local setting. Officers considered the development to be well screened from the wider land. Further, the scheme would conform with the Local Plan and NPPF in supporting renewable energy developments.


Public speakers




Members questions and debate


      i.        Cllr J Toye proposed acceptance of the Officers recommendation and reiterated comments from prior meetings that the threshold limit for referral to Development Committee be raised for solar farm applications.


     ii.        Cllr A Varley thanked Officers for their report and expressed his full support for the Officers recommendation which aligned with the Council’s Net Zero commitments. He seconded the Officers recommendation for approval.


    iii.        Cllr V Holliday asked whether the on-site hedgerows were trimmed, why the applicant had requested 13 years specifically, and what was the output of solar farm when compared to wind turbines.


   iv.        The SPO commented that the hedgerow would offer less screening in wintertime when the hedge was not in leaf, regardless, there were limited public viewpoints of the site. He was uncertain why the 13 years was requested as reasons for this time-period had not been specified, though he reasoned it may be influenced by the lifespan left in the solar panels. With respect of comparable output to wind farms, he advised he was unable to provide comparable data, though noted that the output of the solar array was substantial.


     v.        The DM commented that it was difficult to draw a direct comparison between wind and solar energy on the site as it would depend on wind speed and other material factors. The layout of the site had been considered at the time of the original application, with an improved landscape management plan supplied which was considered an improvement.


   vi.        Cllr V Holliday asked if the electricity wires and telegraph poles would go if the solar array were the go.


  vii.        The DM advised that the pylons formed part of national infrastructure, already in situ before the original application was agreed, and that this had formed part of the reasoning in why the applicant had selected the site. It would be conditioned that once the solar array had reached the end of its permitted use, that the solar panels and associated infrastructure be removed.


 viii.        Cllr A Brown thanked the Case Officer for his report. He reflected that the application was for an extension of time to a previously permitted application, he was therefore surprised at the objection’s raised by Rural England given no radical change was proposed. He noted that the usual safeguards would be conditioned, which he was satisfied with, and commended officers in their detailed undertaking by securing condition 11 for the cleaning of signage.


UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED by 14 votes for. 


That application RV/23/1241 be APPROVED in accordance with the Officers recommendation.

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