Two new solar farms were approved either side of the A23 in Mid Sussex this week.
Mid Sussex District Council’s Planning Committee gave the green light to the two applications, one on land west of Cuckfield Road north of Goddards Green, and another west of Bolney Chapel Road in Twineham, on Thursday August 6.
The second proved to be the more controversial due to the proposal’s impact on two Grade II listed buildings, and the cumulative ‘urbanising effect’ it would have along with the planned Bolney substation for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm on land nearby.
The solar panels will cover 17.1 of the 44.5 hectare site in three clusters, while the application also included two metre high green mesh fencing, six invertor stations, and 13 thermal imaging cameras stationed around the land’s boundaries on steel poles.
Annie Hirst, chairman of Twineham Parish Council, spoke of their ‘disappointment’ at the officers’ decision to recommend the application be approved, and felt the large-scale solar farm would have an ‘additional cumulative industrialising effect’ on the area.
John Allen (Con, Bolney) challenged the assertion that the land was largely flat, and argued that the panels would be visible from one of the Grade II listed properties, and public rights of way bordering the site.
He added: “It will have a considerable urbanising impact on this rural location.”
But vice chairman of the committee Christopher Hersey (Con, High Weald) said: “We have a significant problem with our power generation and we are looking for ways where we can implement environmentally-friendly power generation. One could argue this may be friendly in one sense, but not in another in terms of visual impact.”
Meanwhile Phillip Coote (Con, Crawley Down and Turners Hill) asked if they should ‘all live in mud huts and burn wood’ instead.
Colin Trumble (Con, Hurstpierpoint and Downs) added: “In terms of planning there’s not a lot we can do about it, but I do feel sympathy with the people and the villagers who are going to be affected.”
Meanwhile on the first solar farm application Mr Trumble said: “It’s a well screened site and I fail to see any planning issues for why it should not go ahead.”
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