Agenda item

Bacton PF/21/1878 - Proposed ground mounted solar photovoltaic array and associated infrastructure; Land East of Bacton Gas Terminal (known as Seagull's Field), Paston Rd, Bacton.


The DMTL introduced the Officers report and recommendation for approval subject to the outlined conditions. He advised that since the publication of the Agenda, the pre-commencement conditions set out on p.39 had been agreed and signed on 20th September.


Further, the DMTL advised that the Officers recommendations had been updated to reflect feedback from the Highways Authority with the inclusion of an additional condition which would mitigate against glint and glare from the solar farm on larger vehicles. Should Members be minded to approve, final wording would be delegated to the Assistant Director for Planning.  


The DMTL noted following the agenda publication questions had been received regarding the detailed contained therein. He clarified that the 12% figure detailed related to the electric generated by the Solar Project resulting in a 12% forecasted decrease in the amount of energy supplied to the gas terminal from the National Grid. Additionally, he informed Members that an online petition on objecting to the proposal been received with 580 signatories, the basis of the objection was detailed in p.21 – 23 of the Officer report. 


Public Speakers

Fiona Hollis – Objecting

Damian Baker (RenEnergy Ltd)– Supporting


  1. The DM relayed a statement from Cllr W Fredricks who was unable to attend the meeting. Cllr W Fredricks welcomed the opportunity for residents to give their views on Seagulls Field and noted it had been a long process. She affirmed that the local authority wished to work with residents and ensure their voices were heard by decision makers.


  1. Cllr G Mancini-Boyle commented that his concerns regarding the anti-glint coating applied to the panels had been addressed, and that he considered the solution acceptable. He noted that objections had been raised relating to unwanted criminal activity and asked if Officers had any knowledge of theft or damage to other Solar Arrays.


  1. The DM affirmed that he was not aware of any criminal damage to the 150mw of Solar Arrays located within the District, including any theft of cables. He advised that the project would make a significant difference to the site and that the proposal was supported by NNDC Policies and aligned with the Councils Climate Emergency declaration.


  1. Cllr V Holliday noted that there had been much opposition from the community and considered that the benefit of the 12% energy generation was quite small. She stated that she did not agree with Officers assessment that the proposal was supported by NNDC Core Policies nor did she agree that the proposal required its specific setting within the undeveloped coast.


  1. Cllr N Lloyd provided clarity over the concerns surrounding the potential for criminal activity, and stated that the site was protected by armed Ministry of Defence Police 24/7. He thanked Officers for their comprehensive report and commended Officers and the Applicant for working together to produce the proposal, noting it was perhaps the longest set of conditions he had ever seen for a planning proposal. Cllr N Lloyd considered that the 12% energy use figure was a significant reduction when considering the large amount of energy the site draws from the National Grid. He acknowledged the net bio-diversity gain through the scheme, and commented whilst the affect to Skylarks was disappointing, the enhancements to attract other rare species was valuable and worth merit. Further, Cllr N Lloyd considered all concerns and issues raised had been addressed or mitigated against. The land was not used for agricultural purposes and he contended that once the planting was established, most passing individuals would not be aware of the Solar Array, as it was quiet, unobtrusive and well shielded. Cllr N Lloyd proposed acceptance of the Officers recommendation for approval subject to conditions.


  1. Cllr N Pearce thanked Officers for their comprehensive report and affirmed the need for renewable energy sites. He commented that it was a finely balanced application and accepted the comments and objections from neighbouring businesses, which he conceded may be negatively impacted by the proposal, as well as broader public opposition. Cllr N Pearce expressed the importance of Bacton Gas terminal to the Country and the need to support the terminal.


  1. Cllr P Heinrich recalled the history of the area and noted the proposal was the last remaining open field in the immediate area. He considered that the Officers report was well argued and clearly stated that the proposal would not breach NNDC or National Planning Policy if approved. He expressed his support for the proposal and commented that it was well designed and that it was increasingly critical to consider green energy schemes as Fossil Fuels could not be burned indefinitely. Cllr P Heinrich commended the applicant for providing a high quality scheme including landscaping and shielding. Further, he commented that the gas terminal would remain visible from the neighbouring Caravan site, and the use of Solar Array would not have a significant impact by contrast. Cllr P Heinrich seconded the proposal to accept the Officers Recommendation.


RESOLVED by 10 votes for and 1 against;


That Planning Application PF/21/1878 be APPROVED subject to conditions outlined in the Officers report and any others considered necessary by the Assist Director for Planning. Final wording of conditions to be delegated to the Assistant Director for Planning.


Supporting documents: