Anti-solar farm campaigners in Chailey deliver 600 signature petition

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Anti-solar farm campaigners have delivered their 600 signature petition to the council in time for D-day.

Anti-solar farm campaigners have delivered their 600 signature petition to the council in time for D-day.

The Chailey residents are campaigning against Hadstone Energy’s proposed solar development at Tomkins Farm handed in their petition to Lewes District Council ahead of its planning committee meeting which will take place next Wednesday (July 29).

The villagers, who have campaigned for six months to demonstrate to the council why this application should not go ahead, gathered at Southover House in Lewes to present the petition and documentation of their research into the issue, along with statements of support from 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 that our objections are fully justified.

“We have refused to be silenced by Hadstone Energy and their attempts to discredit us.

“From day one we made it our number one priority to fully understand the subject and be in full possession of the facts; 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; has the Council considered the impact on tourism if the green fields of Sussex are eroded by this kind of industrialisation?

“We can now only hope that, taking into account the strength of public feeling and the factual evidence we have gathered against the proposal, 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.”

Several bodies have written a letter to the council in objection to the proposal.

Chailey Parish Council wrote: ‘The proposed installation would destroy the unique historic character of a rural and sensitive location’ and that it would appear ‘as an isolated development in countryside which makes an important contribution to the rural setting and character of nearby villages such as Chailey and Newick’.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has written that the ‘single most important issue in the assessment of solar farm applications.....is their negative landscape impact’ and says that ‘There are two important and well-used footpaths...that pass directly against the edges of the application site and would be strongly impacted by the proposed development’.

The Ramblers Association refer to the footpaths and said that ‘the industrial style fencing needed to protect the panels from deer etc will create an adverse visual impact and ruin the enjoyment of those using the two paths mentioned’.

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