Solar farm near Swaffham opens its gates for ‘Independence’ day

A farm near Swaffham is one of several solar farms throughout the UK which is taking part in Solar Independence Day on Friday.

Burntstalks Farm, which has 65 acres, is opening its site to residents, schools and community groups to show them around and explain its operation.

The date, July 4th, marks the birth of the independent United States of America and the day has been chosen by the Solar Trade Association to illustrate that increased independence is a key benefit of solar energy.

Mike Day, a spokesman for Lightsource Renewable Energy, owners of Burntstalks, said: “We want to give people a better idea of what solar energy is all about. Sometimes there maybe misconceptions, so we want to engage with the local community. We have invited representatives of councils, schools, wildlife groups and other members of the community to come along and see how they benefit from solar power.

“It’s also an opportunity for them see how we look at biodiversity in the planning stages when we allow for things such as wildflowers, hedgerows and wildlife habitats.”

For ground-based solar farms, Lightsource prepares a biodiversity management plan and consults with local wildlife representatives. This includes wildlife trusts, RSPB, National Trust or any other organisations that have a local interest in wildlife.

Burntstalks Solar Farm has 47,040 photovoltaic panels which is only about 30 per cent of the rented area being used, leaving attractive options for land diversification.

The solar farm generates enough green electricity to power more than 3,800 UK households.

Although the area is already surrounded by mature planting and greenery, Lightsource plans to add further natural screening to ensure that the site remains in keeping with the surrounding area.

Nick Boyle, Lightsource CEO, said: “The installation at Burntstalks Solar Farm is an excellent example of how the passive use of land for solar energy generation has the potential to boost biodiversity. There remains huge opportunity in the UK for solar energy and examples of successful schemes like Burntstalks Solar Farm showcase this perfectly.”

Burntstalks Farm is open from 10am until 4pm, and the solar farm is located on land at Narford Farm, off Westacre Road, Swaffham PE37 7QA.

The entrance to the farm will be signposted and there will be someone to direct visitors at the entrance.