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19 December 2014, 07:43
A 200,000 panel solar farm has been given the go ahead for the former RAF Coltishall site.
The final nod of approval for the site - owned by Norfolk County Council - came from Broadland District and North Norfolk District Councils.
The 50 MW scheme has the potential to generate more than £10million for the County Council over 25 years.
It has already been agreed this money will be reinvested into the site - which is now known as the Scottow Enterprise Park - to operate and maintain it, create jobs, safeguard the important heritage assets, bring forward proposals to open up public access and ultimately create further revenue in the future.
Leader of Norfolk County Council George Nobbs said: "The decision by both councils is a Christmas present for the Norfolk taxpayer and good news for the environment as well.
"There have been those who've doubted that we would be able to pull off this deal, but I'm glad to say they've been proved wrong. RAF Coltishall, or Scottow Enterprise Park as it will be known, is beginning to repay the vision and faith that we have shown in it. Today's decision is further evidence that this will turn out to be a sound investment."
Construction of the first phase of the project is due to start in early 2015 with planned completion by the end of March.
Scottow Moor Solar, in partnership with Norwich-based Red Triangle Energy, is the company behind the project. David Fyffe, Director of Scottow Moor Solar, said: "We welcome the decisions by Broadland District Council and North Norfolk District Council and we'll be aiming to start construction in the early part of next year."
The Solar farm will cover the majority of open space on the site totalling 300 acres (120 hectares) maximising income for the County Council.
Bev Spratt, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Economic Development Sub Committee, said: "I am extremely pleased the solar farm proposal has now been passed by both district councils. This is a key moment and has been a long time in the making. We can now move forward and hopefully reap the benefits in the not too distant future.
"As Chairman of the Economic Development Sub Committee I have worked hard on this project to get it to this stage to benefit the people of Norfolk. The advantage of the solar proposal is that it can deliver our economic objectives whilst at the same time preserving the heritage assets. This would be unlikely with other development options."
The proposal has other benefits as it has the potential to deliver clean energy as well as offering flexibility on the site. It is unlikely it will impede the development and use of the remainder of the land and also creates an opportunity for grazing underneath the panels themselves.
Leader of North Norfolk District Council and portfolio holder for Economic Development Tom FitzPatrick commented on today's decision by saying: "We welcome the decision to give the go-ahead to build one of Britain's largest solar farms at the Scottow Enterprise Park. It's an extremely positive step forward and we look forward to it being a catalyst for further investment and development at the site and the creation of more jobs in the area for the benefit of the local community."
Leader of Broadland District Council Andrew Proctor added: "This development reflects two of our key ambitions of delivering economic success and environmental excellence. So we are delighted that the planning committees of both councils agreed to approve the development."