Planners refuse Fairwarp solar panels

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A 41 metre long array of solar panels in place on land next to Arnolds, Nursery Lane, near Fairwarp, could have to be torn down.

People living nearby told the Express they believed the arrangement was too big to serve the domestic needs of the property. And at a Wealden District Council planning meeting, members backed their officers’ recommendation to refuse the retrospective application.

The applicant’s legal adviser said ‘mitigation measures’ would ensure there was no adverse impact on the AONB. But officers and members said their concerns focus on the visual impact of the array on the character and appearance of the High Weald countryside.

They pointed out: “It can be seen as a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape from various points around the site.” And they added the location of the panels ‘is distant from and poorly related to the dwelling it serves.’

Maresfield Parish councillors were happy with the scheme, saying although the panels were visible from a path, this is not a designated right of way. Some residents approved but other Fairwarp families said the panels were ‘uncomfortable to look at on a bright day.’ They also said they should not have been installed without permission, could set a precedent and have insufficient access to sunshine.

Planners pointed out there would be no objection in principle to an array to serve the domestic needs of Arnolds but state the harm to the AONB outweighs the benefits of the current panels. A Wealden spokesman said the applicant might appeal, but the decision means it could be ordered to be removed.