A so-called ‘modest’ array of 50 photovoltaic panels already half-constructed near Buxted has angered local residents.
The part-restrospective application from agents Parker Dann on behalf of Mark Johnson states the array is to ‘meet the electrical needs of Heatherdene,’ a substantial part-built house off Buxted Wood Lane. The array is in an agricultural field north of the house.
Buxted Parish councillors visited the site on January 24 and noted that work had already started with many panels already in place. They went back in bright sunshine the next morning and were horrified to note the panels are clearly visible and impacted on the landscape, particularly from Redbrook Lane. This lane, they point out, is a bridleway and forms part of the long-distance footpath, the 66 mile Vanguard Way which runs from Croydon to Newhaven.
In correspondence, councillors point out chief planning officer Kelvin Williams appeared to have assessed possible impact from an aerial photograph and plan, not a physical visit. They also fear that the four-rows of arrays - in the region of 50 panels - could mean an excess of electricity generated and sold on.
By comparison, on the same evening, the Parish Council considered an application for a dual panel system one panel long for Saxon Court. This residential home, they say, will require far more power that whatever is needed for one house. And they point out the planning application does not admit to the numbers of panels which will be finally seen here.
Given that planners have said a landscape visual impact assessement on the surrounding landscape has not been carried out, Buxted Parish Council refuses to endorse retrospective permission on these grounds. While they support small-scale alternative energy developments sensitively placed they query why arrays would be designed to a size which would generate electricity in excess to the dwelling’s needs.
The Parish Council recommends refusal.
Meanwhile a Redbrook Lane resident is ‘devastated’ her beautiful view of green fields has been blighted by the huge development. She says: “There are enough panels to feed all of Buxted. I am all for sustainable energy but this development is ridiculous and hideous.”
In their application, Parker Dann state: “The design and layout of the proposal has been carefully considered to minimise landscape impact. The panels would make a relatively small but valuable contribution to meeting targets for renewable energy.”
Mark Best on behalf of applicants Parker Dann told the Express: “There is an amount of available capacity in the grid. This array will feed into the available capacity bearing in mind the generation does not run continually at peak . If there is any spare capacity then it will be fed into the grid.
It is as big as you see it now and will not get any larger. The advantage of having something like this on a long distance path is that you only see it for a relatively short section of your walk. The new development at Heatherdene will also provide more screening.”
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