Solar power installation proposal backed by councillors after tree concern resolved
More than 90,000 solar panels are set to be installed on the edge of Lynn after a proposal power generation installation was approved by councillors today.
Campaigners had raised objections to the proposed development on land off Edward Benefer Way, because of the perceived impact on an existing public right of way.
But debate on the application, whose site falls in the neighbouring parish of South Wootton was initially adjourned at a West Norfolk Council planning meeting because of concerns over trees on the land.
The application by NS Solar 01 Limited, allows for a 49.99 megawatt solar array, plus 15 megawatt battery storage area.
It also includes cable connections to the Lynn substation and the Recipharm, formerly known as Bespak, factory.
Officials said the application would include 92,500 solar panels, with hedging proposed to shield the scheme from wider view.
Speaking in support of the application, Paul Kunes, the council's environment portfolio holder, argued there would be "a big increase in biodiversity" as a result of the development.
He said: "Are they pretty? No, they're not. They're damned ugly. But at least they will have a boundary hedge all the way round them.
"They will be virtually impossible to see once the hedges have grown up."
But concerns were raised when it emerged that the application allows for the removal of 11 trees from the site.
Committee member Sandra Squire told members: "If you cut down trees, you're losing biodiversity."
But officials said the trees identified for removal were either dead or close to death. The meeting was also told that the applicant would be prepared to accept a condition requiring the trees to be replaced.
The meeting also heard concerns about the potential loss of farmland as a result of the development.
Mr Kunes admitted he would prefer an alternative location, but said there were no suitable brownfield sites available in the locality.
And Martin Storey questioned whether new subsidy rules may further reduce the amount of land available for food production in the years ahead.
But the committee's vice-chairman, Geoff Hipperson, said: "You look around the borough and the amount of land wasted, that we see nothing growing, is tremendous.
"I would not vote against this on the grounds of loss of agricultural land myself."
Members voted 15 to nil, with two absentions, in favour of the proposal.