Plans for a solar farm which could see up to 33,000 panels built on land between Laughton and Ripe have been submitted to Wealden District Council.
Renewable energy company Wessex Solar Energy is hoping to construct and operate a seven megawatt solar park on 20.2 hectares of land at Kitty Hawk Farm on Darp Lane. The site is 1.2km to the west of Ripe and 2.5km to the south of Laughton.
The plans involve the construction of seven transformer cabins, and a single control building. The planning application says the solar panels will stand no more than three metres high and a visual impact assessment found the project will be visible over a small area, but have no ‘unacceptable impact’ on views from areas of outstanding natural beauty.
If agreed the farm will be the second within about five miles, after the council gave the green light to company Susenco’s plans for a 27 hectare solar farm at Wick Street near Berwick.
The solar park proposed for Ripe would have a lifetime of 25 years and the company said the height of the panels would still allow sheep to graze the land. The planning application says communities which host projects can keep additional business rates the project generates. It says the community could benefit from £25,000 to £30,000 per year. It said the ‘upper limit’ of panel dimensions and land take had been quoted. But the farm could be less than what is quoted in the application, after the final design is agreed with the council.
The proposal has been met with some opposition. Commenting on the planning application, one resident said: “This application is totally out of keeping with the area, the people who live here, the animals that live here, and will ruin Darp Lane.”
In the planning application, the company states: “Wessex Solar Energy has throughout the development of the proposed solar park sought to minimise the impact of the project especially with regard to visual impacts. This has been achieved by listening to the concerns of interested parties.”
An Environment Impact Assessment said there would be no impact on settlement, living accommodation of individual houses, major highways or railways or protected species. Deadline for comments is December 20. Visit www.wealden.gov.uk and search for WD/2013/2264.