Appeal against solar farm decision is dismissed

Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, joins the the 'Stop Industrialising Tomkins Farm' protest group against the planned solar power farm. SUS-150618-091443001
Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, joins the the 'Stop Industrialising Tomkins Farm' protest group against the planned solar power farm. SUS-150618-091443001

An appeal against the decision not to allow a solar farm to be built on land in Chailey has been dismissed.

Hadstone Energy, the company behind plans to install 20,000 solar panels at Tomkins Farm, launched an appeal after its application was refused by Lewes District Council’s planning committee in July 2015.

Writing a letter to the planning inspectorate - who reviewed and confirmed the validity of the original decision - Lewes MP Maria Caulfield argued that, in this instance, the use of agricultural land and building on greenfield sites meant the original verdict should be upheld.

Upon hearing the news, Ms Caulfield said: “I am delighted this decision has been reached.

“Constituents will remember that I adamantly campaigned with residents against this planning application both prior to, and following my election as the Member of Parliament for Lewes, and as my reasons for doing so had not changed, I was very happy to continue to do so this time around.

“I have been very clear that I am supportive or renewable energy and the benefit that it brings to our communities. However, I also feel that it is vital that any application of this kind should meet the approval of the vast majority of local residents, while also ensuring that is isn’t making use of otherwise good agricultural land.”

The decision was also welcomed by the masses of Chailey residents who fought the application. In a note to Ms Caulfield, one resident said: “Thank you very much for your support from start to finish. Your opposition to the solar farm is mentioned in the report and I cannot thank you enough for voicing these opinions which clearly carried weight and helped us gain the right result.”

Lewes District Councillors voted six to four in favour of rejecting the application last year after a vociferous campaign from residents and more than 150 objections sent directly to the council.

The application was also unanimously opposed by Chailey Parish Council, which felt the 24-acre plan would ‘put a factory on the site and turn ancient green fields into a brownfield area’.

Hadstone said the solar farm would yield enough energy for the electrical consumption of 1,400 local homes. The company has been contacted for a comment.

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