COMMUNITY leaders will visit a solar farm in north Norfolk next week before deciding whether three massive projects should be build on farmland in Suffolk Coastal.

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The council has received applications for a 62-acre scheme with 47,500 free-standing solar panels at Stratton Hall, alongside the A14 between Kirton and Levington, a 127-acre development with 100,000 panels at Hacheston, and 74 acres with 64,200 panels at Great Glemham.

The development control committee will meet on Wednesday, January 23 to decide the schemes – which would provide electricity from the sun for around 13,000 homes – and is being recommended to give the go-ahead for all three projects.

Committee member Susan Harvey said on Monday, January 21 councillors would be visiting a solar panel farm at North Walsham to see a project first hand to help analyse its impact on the landscape.

“I think it will be interesting to actually see a solar farm and should help our decision-making,” she said.

“In my ward, Kirton Parish Council has not objected but there are still some concerns which need discussion and I am interested to know what grade of agricultural land is to be used.”

The proposal for Stratton Hall, put forward by Solarcentury, would produce electricity to power nearly 3,000 homes. The area would be protected by fencing and CCTV.

Levington and Stratton Hall Parish Council has not objected but has “serious concerns for a potential increase in the risk for accidents on the A14” from Felixstowe if drivers become distracted by the panels and has suggested fencing around the site.

Head of planning Philip Ridley said: “There is a clear steer and message coming through policy documents that the presumption is in favour of development and renewable energy proposals should be enthusiastically supported in so far that they do not amount to harm to the local environment or amenity of local people.

“The proposal will contribute towards meeting the national energy targets with the energy generated being transferred directly into the national grid.”

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