Residents fear solar farm will ‘spoil’ view

JPCT 250214 S14090490x Ashurst, Steyning solar farm proposal. Anita Rudkin and grandson Joseph -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 250214 S14090490x Ashurst, Steyning solar farm proposal. Anita Rudkin and grandson Joseph -photo by Steve Cobb

Residents living near a proposed solar farm site said they are ‘heartbroken’ by the potential loss of landscape and want councillors to say ‘no’ to the application.

Grandmother Anita Rudkin and her neighbour David Blake live beside Huddlestone Farm in Steyning where developer Inazin have submitted a plan to build a solar farm that will generate the equivalent of enough energy to power 3,000 homes.

But Mrs Rudkin who has lived with her family beside the site for more than 20 years said it will ‘completely change’ their lives forever if Horsham District Council (HDC) approve the application.

She said: “We bought it because of the view here; it’s just stunning.

“We live here, we work here, we walk our animals here and our friends come here, but now every day I walk down the lane and look at the site it’s just heart breaking.”

The lane Mrs Rudkin speaks of is a bridle path known as Steyning Walk, a countryside attraction for tourists and residents to explore the natural beauty of the town. The farm, however, is located on a hillside and Mrs Rudkin claims it will ‘spoil’ the landscape for walkers.

Mrs Rudkin continued: “This will not be affecting just my view, but it’s also part of Steyning Walks that is funded by the National Lottery. All the walkers that come down here and the riders - it will spoil their view too. It’s a local amenity.”

David Blake of Ashurst Place Farm said the development would be ‘right in his face’ and ‘ruin the walk for the public’.

“It’s such a lovely walk for people. It’s beautiful, but the landscape will change completely and I’m thinking of all the people that want to enjoy the countryside,” he said.

“When I bought this farm 12 years ago I got it for the stunning location. It’ll be right on the hillside.”

Three solar farm developments by three separate applicants have been proposed for HDC with one granted approval by the council.

The purpose of a solar photovoltaic (PV) farm is to provide the surrounding area with electricity and save on carbon emissions.

Mrs Rudkin said: “I’m not against solar power, but not in our lovely countryside, there are loads of other places they could put it. I mean Shoreham Cement Works has been derelict for years and is a brownfield site.

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

This week, CEO of Inazin David Sandilands said that he is aware of the two objections from the neighbouring residents, but said ‘the perfect site does not exist’.

“This site has a very low impact and they are the only two people most effected by this.

“We held a consultation in December and overwhelmingly the community was in support of this project.”

He added that the panels have been repositioned further down the hill in the plan to make them less visible.

Inazin has also pledged to provide a community benefit that will promote green issues in the area. One possibility suggested will be to donate a PV installation to Steyning Grammar School for pupils to learn from. Another initiative proposed will be to offer residents a stake in the solar farm.

The site was visited by district councillors Sue Rogers and Hazel Cork on Tuesday February 25.