Last-ditch effort to save Tomkins Farm

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Campaigners against plans to install 20,000 solar panels at Tomkins Farm have made one last-ditch attempt to stop the development before the final decision is made next week.

The campaign group, called Stop Industrialising Tomkins Farm, have presented a 600-signature petition to Lewes District Council, which is expected to make a decision on the proposal on July 29.

The residents gathered at Southover House in Lewes to present the petition and research into the issue, along with statements of support from respected authorities on rural issues.

Protester Iain Crump said: “This is the culmination of months of dedicated research and campaigning and our determination to be heard. The fact that we have gathered 600 signatures against the solar farm and have the support of our MP, Maria Caulfield, Chailey Parish Council, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and the Ramblers Association proves our objections are fully justified.

“We are passionate about protecting the irreplaceable Sussex countryside but we have made sure that our objections have been based on facts, not emotions.

“Beautiful countryside is not just for local residents to enjoy. This is not ‘nimbyism’ – the knock-on effects of covering the land with solar farms will spread much further than our own back yards.

“We can now only hope that, taking into account the strength of public feeling, we have done enough to convince the Planning Committee that to allow the development to go ahead will be a mistake that cannot be reversed.”

Maria Caulfield MP has previously pledged her support to the campaigners, saying: “The proposed change of use would result in a loss of agricultural land which we desperately need. We have a national and local shortage of land for food production and this application would exacerbate the problem.

“Secondly, this application is to be sited in an area of beauty and will result in a loss of green space and will have a permanent detrimental effect on the local wildlife of the area. The impact on the surrounding street scene will be considerable.

“I strongly object to this application and will continue to stand alongside local residents on this matter.”

Hadstone Energy Ltd and Southern Solar worked together to submit plans to build 20,000 solar panels on land in Chailey.

The firms feels Tomkins Farm is an ideal place because the proposed 25-acre field is adjacent to the Lewes-Newick electrical distribution line. The solar farm would yield sufficient energy for the electrical consumption of 1,400 homes.

They say it would be on low-grade land and low visibility.

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