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11 CCTV cameras at Carlton Farm sun park, near North Walsham, spark serious concerns for neighbours’ privacy

PUBLISHED: 16:40 27 April 2012 | UPDATED: 21:50 27 April 2012

The sun farm taking shape on the outskirts of North Walsham last year. Picture: MIKE PAGE

The sun farm taking shape on the outskirts of North Walsham last year. Picture: MIKE PAGE

© Mike Page all rights reserved. Before any use is made of this image including display, publication, broadcast, syndication or web, permission must be obtained in writing.

A battery of CCTV cameras placed around a north Norfolk sun farm is causing neighbours, and planning officers, serious concerns about invasion of privacy.

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) planners are due to discuss the matter at their development committee meeting on Thursday, May 3.

A total of 11 cameras have been set up around the perimeter of Carlton Farm Solar Park, on the outskirts of North Walsham.

But two near neighbours, on Heath Road, say several overlook their properties and have been viewing their homes.

Renpower Investments UK Ltd has submitted a retrospective application to keep the cameras, plus re-sited buildings and fencing, none of which are covered by their current planning permission.

The firm, which describes Carlton Farm as “one of the UK’s largest ground-mounted photovoltaic installations to date,” says the security measures are required by insurers to protect the solar investment from theft.

But a report to the committee says that officers have “significant concerns” that some of the cameras overlook, or appear to overlook, 1 and 2 The Gatehouse.

Renpower had been asked about alternative security measures which would reduce the need for so many cameras and had “indicated that limitations can and will be put in place” to reduce their impact on neighbours. The firm had also offered to pixellate the imagery to protect neighbours’ privacy.

But the report adds that, despite the proposed mitigation measures: “it is considered that the intrusion and impact of a number of the cameras on residential amenity is likely to be so severe that approval cannot be recommended without the benefit of further improvements.”

Officers have not made a written recommendation on the application but, following a visit to the site by committee members yesterday, April 26, are due to give an oral report to Thursday’s meeting.

Letters of objection from the two neighbours say pixellating is not acceptable and also include complaints about a public address system which “goes off randomly without anyone being on site”, fencing being too near a property boundary, and the number and size of buildings on the site.

The sun farm, covering nearly 30 acres, was built last year and features 18,000 photovoltaic panels. It has an estimated output of five mega-watts.

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