Solar farm sites may come to Steyning and Ashurst

Steyning Proposal 2

Steyning Proposal 2

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Two South Downs solar farms could be built to generate electricity for thousands of homes in the area.

Steyning and Ashurst are locations under two separate plans for ‘Solar Reserves’, designed to provide homes with electricity and save on carbon emissions.

Engineering manager of Lumicity Tim Bailey said the company planned to build its solar panels on 50 acres of land at Ford Farm in Ashurst and claimed the community would benefit from the project.

“We’ve located an ideal site that’s nicely tucked away at the bottom of the valley and it’s only a small portion of the farm,” said Mr Bailey.

“The irradiance is good here, we’re close to the national grid and the voltage loss will be low. It will generate at ten megawatts which could feed the equivalent of ten Ashursts.”

The solar panels would occupy the land for 25 years and, with the assistance of Sussex Wildlife, Lumicity promised there would be great ecological benefits, including wildlife grazing and growth of wildflowers and grasses.

Landowner of Ford Farm David Lean said he was happy to support the project because it would help the environment.

Mr Lean said: “We’ll be producing electricity and not turning out carbon dioxide. We’re following what the government’s preferences are, we’ll be letting the hedgerows grow much taller and we’ll be bringing in bees.”

However, Mr Bailey said it would be slightly visible from some footpaths and homes.

“It’s not intrusive and the panels don’t reflect light, they are designed to absorb it,” Mr Bailey added.

Lumicity will be sending a representative to Ashurst Parish Council’s meeting on January 9.

CEO of Inazin David Sandilands said his company wanted to build a solar farm at Huddlestone Farm, Horsham Road, Steyning.

At a public exhibition on December 9 in the Steyning Centre, residents looked at sketches of the proposal.

Mr Sandilands said: “We’re consulting with the local community to get their views and answer their questions.

“The size of this proposed development should generate the equivalent of energy to power 3,000 homes.

“This site should actually impact very few people.”

Mr Sandilands added that the proposed site would also be used for grazing sheep.

David Blake of Ashurst Place Farm said the development would be ‘right in his face’. “When I bought this farm 12 years ago I got it for the stunning location. It’ll be right on the hillside.”

But co-ordinator of Steyning Greening Campaign Geoff Barnard said in principle he would be right behind the scheme.

“The principle of generating energy locally is clearly the way we’ve got to go forward,” said Mr Barnard.