Massive solar farm plan for Bentley Estate

Typical Lightsource Solar Farm
Typical Lightsource Solar Farm

A solar farm covering 65 acres of open land is planned for the Bentley Estate between Halland and Little Horsted.

The scheme is being lodged by Lightsource Renewable Energy which plans to submit a proposal soon. The firm has launched a ‘Get Involved’ campaign seeking input from local people to shape and design its solar farm scheme.

Information on preliminary designs has been sent to local residents and a drop-in information evening will be held on February 4 between 5.30pm and 7.30pm at Halland Forge Motel, BN8 6PW.

Lightsource says the solar farm would generate clean electricity for 2,700 local homes and create business and employment opportunities.

Business development director Conor McGuigan said: “The way a solar farm is laid out means over two-thirds of the land is open grassland. In the case of the Bentley Estate the grassland would account for 44 out of the planned 65 acres. All this land needs to be responsibly cared for and this involves much more than just technical expertise.

“There are many ways people can get involved - from the point of design right through to construction, fencing and enhancing habitats for local wildlife.

“Solar power is a dependable source of energy and farming, it creates a great opportunity to establish a sustainable local supply chain.

“We have chosen to progress with our proposals for this area because it is already well screened - the site is surrounded by existing trees and vegetation which will all be retained and will screen most views. We plan to fill any gaps in hedgerows with native species and plant a new hedgerow along the historic field boundary between the two most northerly fields.”

East Hoathly and Halland parish councillor Jan Burdon said the scheme will almost certainly be debated at the next parish council meeting on Monday, January 27.

She said: “I am standing back from this and will go along to the meeting to see what is proposed. In Devon I saw a large solar farm set behind a hedge where sheep grazed in the spaces between panels. We need energy and these farms mean the land can also be used for livestock. But I hope the landscape won’t be damaged as on mountainsides in Northern Spain which are covered with polytunnels.”

One solar farm application at Berwick was approved, another at Ripe has not yet been determined and one east of Lewes has been withdrawn.