Solar farm ‘needs to involve community’

An image showing how the company behind the plan says the scheme would look
An image showing how the company behind the plan says the scheme would look

STEYNING Parish Council has decided not to object to plans for a solar farm in the town, but it has raised some concerns.

In particular, the council would like to see some community involvement in the scheme for Huddlestone Farm, in Horsham Road.

Parish council planning committee chairman Mariella Alexander told the full council last week: “Generally, the site was acceptable because it is low-quality agricultural land and low lying.”

She said the solar farm would not be easily visible, apart from at a few houses some distance away.

Asked if residents had raised any issues, she added: “There is a fair amount of objection but from out point of view, it seemed to be a better site than having it the other side of the ridge, facing this side of Steyning.

“The slope goes up and the installations would stop at the bottom of the slope.”

The plans are for a solar farm comprising arrays of photovoltaic panels with ancillary plant, equipment, equipment housing and an underground cable to connect to the national grid.

The parish council’s planning committee, which met on February 4, agreed there was no objection, subject to the environmental officers and ecologists reports.

It was noted the land could be re-instated after 30 years, with no concrete or permanent structure.

The committee said the site had been well chosen but there was concern over the footpath and natural walk.

The solar farm would help generate electricity for thousands of homes in the area and save on carbon emissions.

In December, Inazin Power explained its proposals and showed sketches to residents at a public exhibition at the Steyning Centre.

Chief executive David Sandilands said: “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 the proposed site would also be used for grazing sheep.

David Blake, of Ashurst Place Farm, also in Horsham Road, said at the time 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 Steyning 10:10 Climate Action Group co-ordinator 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.

He has since told the Herald the greening group would welcome the opportunity to get involved with a community-financed photovoltaic project, either linked to the Huddlestone Farm scheme or as a stand-alone project.