Work set to start on solar panel scheme at Hethersett food park

Work is due to start on a new green-energy development on the outskirts of Norwich which is believed to the first of its kind to gain approval in Norfolk.

Planning permission was granted in June for the installation of up to 30 large solar panels on an area of scrubland next to the Little Melton Food Park, in Little Melton Road, Hethersett, in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of the site.

The panels, which will measure 9.7m by 6.4m, will be able to move to catch the sun light through the day, making them about 30pc more efficient then traditional fixed panels.

The technology will be imported from Germany, where work on the first five panels will begin soon. They are expected to up and running at the food park by the end of September.

The owners of the site, Carl and David Baker, of RS Baker and Son Ltd, will then assess their performance before giving the go-ahead for the construction of the remaining panels.

If all 30 panels are built, which would represent an investment of more than �1m for the company, then it is claimed they could produce a quarter of the energy currently consumed by the food park and reduce carbon emissions by 409,000kg a year.

David Baker said: 'This is an excellent opportunity to supply green energy into the Little Melton Food Park and we believe our investment will help to increase the customer base of our tenants and increase employment levels here as a consequence.'

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Ben Steward, director of Wymondham-based 3rd Rock Renewables Ltd, who is co-owner and director of commercial property consultancy Bastin Steward, in Norwich, helped develop the application, alongside fellow Norwich-based planning consultancy Lanpro.

He said the development would boost the competitiveness of the food park because leading supermarkets are reviewing the carbon footprints of the products they sell.

'This is an ideal situation for the scheme because the majority of the electricity generated can be used on site and the availability of a renewable energy source will help attract further food sector occupiers,' he added.

Mr Steward said views of the panels would be mitigated by existing surrounding vegetation.

Little Melton Food Park is occupied by RS Baker and Son, which provides a cold store for local and national food companies and supermarkets, supermarket suppliers EA Pigs, Wessex Foods and Paiko Foods.