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Appeal to be lodged over rejection of West Norfolk solar farm proposal

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An energy firm is set to challenge councillors' decision to block plans for a large solar farm development on the edge of West Norfolk.

Borough council officials have confirmed they are aware of the proposed challenge in relation to the scheme at Walpole St Andrew.

And similar action is set to be taken against a second authority who deferred the issue to West Norfolk.

A solar farm (55243172)
A solar farm (55243172)

Plans to site thousands of panels and a battery storage facility on land at The Marsh were thrown out by West Norfolk Council's planning committee last month.

The decision was taken in spite of advice from the authority's own officers to approve the scheme, plus support from the neighbouring South Holland District Council, which recommended approval.

Now the applicant, Walpole Marsh Limited, has taken out a public notice announcing it is "appealing to the Secretary of State against the decision of the Council".

The notice says any owners or tenants of the land who wish to make representations should contact the Planning Inspectorate by April 8.

A West Norfolk Council spokesman confirmed the authority had been made aware of the appeal, but declined to comment further.

A similar notice has also been issued in relation to South Holland Council for alleged non-determination of the application, which crosses the boundary between the two districts.

The authority deferred a final decision to West Norfolk, but indicated they believed the application should be approved.

The applicants claim the installation, which would cover nearly 80 hectares of land, would generate enough electricity to power more than 10,000 average sized homes.

They argued that the scheme provided an "ideal opportunity" to reduce the area's carbon footprint in the move towards net zero.

But critics including the Walpole parish council and the South Holland MP, Sir John Hayes, were unhappy about the loss of grade one agricultural land from food production.

The Norfolk branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England also claimed the land loss was "unnecessary" and the scheme was too big for the area.

The Planning Inspectorate, who will examine the case, says it expects to receive formal notification of the developer's intentions in the coming days.

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