Chailey Parish Council oppose plans for solar farm

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Developers who hope to install 20,000 solar panels on Tomkins Farm received a blow last week as Chailey Parish Council unanimously turned down the proposal.

Hadstone Energy and Southern Solar are working together on plans to build a solar farm on land in North Chailey that would yield enough energy for the entire electrical consumption of 1,400 local homes.

However, the proposal has been met with fierce opposition from a number of local residents, with more than 150 objections sent to Lewes District Council.

At a meeting of Chailey Parish Council on Tuesday, May 26, councillors unanimously opposed the plans to build on 24 acres of land at Tomkins Farm, near Cinder Hill, with one councillor stating the plan would, in effect, put a factory on the site and turn ancient green fields into a brownfield area. The vote was met with a round of applause from protesters in the audience.

The plan will now go before Lewes District Council.

A spokesperson for Hadstone Energy said: “Chailey parish council has 11 seats, five are currently empty following a mass resignation in May 2015, and only four of the remaining six parish councillors felt able to vote on the Tomkins solar farm proposal.

“We are, of course, disappointed these four parish councillors did not feel able to support the proposal, but this is unsurprising given the decision fell to so few parish council members. We are pleased, however, that Newick and Barcombe parish councils concluded the solar farm proposal would not affect their parishes.”

Newick and Barcombe Parish Councils made ‘no comment’ on the proposal.

Cailey resident Rob Funnell, said: “There is such strong feeling throughout the parish against this plan.

“We’ve gathered more than 400 signatures from people who oppose this plan, and 160 have sent written objections to Lewes District Council.”

Those against the proposal have formed an action group called ‘Stop Industrialising Tomkins Farm’. The group put it to Chailey Parish Council that the installation of so many panels would be damaging to public footpaths.

Villager Susan Hooks said: “Hadstone has claimed this site has low visibility and won’t damage everyone’s enjoyment of the countryside but they’re wrong, and they’ve ignored one of the four footpaths affected, which has a panoramic view of the site.”