Survey seeks opinion on solar farm plans

Steyning 10:10 publicising the solar survey at Steyning Farmers' Market on Saturday
Steyning 10:10 publicising the solar survey at Steyning Farmers' Market on Saturday

A GROUP campaigning for action on climate change has launched a survey to test opinion on plans for a solar farm near Steyning.

The greening group, Steyning 10:10, is firmly backing the scheme, which would see rows of solar panels installed in a field at Huddlestone Farm, just north of Steyning.

Steyning 10:10 co-ordinator Geoff Barnard said: “We think this is a great opportunity to develop a significant renewable energy resource on our doorstep.

“We live in one of the sunniest counties in the country, so it makes sense to make the most of it.”

The move follows an appeal against Horsham District Council’s rejection of the plans on April 15.

Marion Gue, who farms the land with her husband Tim, said: “It presents the best of both worlds. I can still graze my flock as well as producing green energy.”

If successful, developer Inazin Solar has agreed to build a solar system for Steyning Grammar School, donate £200,000 over 20 years to a fund for other green initiatives, and offer local residents a chance to invest in the scheme.

Steyning Parish Council and the South Downs National Park had no objections to the scheme, but plans for the solar farm were turned down by the district council on landscape and aesthetic grounds.

The plans have gone to appeal and will be decided by the National Planning Inspectorate.

Mr Barnard said the panels would be visible from four houses and a bridleway on the north side, and from a footpath running down the west of the site.

“But they are completely hidden from the Steyning direction and from the river and Downs Link path, and will be barely visible from the South Downs,” he said.

The group is running the survey to test what others think, and has published a presentation outlining what it sees as the pros and cons, including photographs taken from all sides.

Both are on the website and paper copies are available from Steyning Museum. The survey deadline is Sunday and the final date of appeal submissions is June 19.

At Steyning Parish Council on Monday, councillor Martin Toomey asked members to discuss actively supporting the scheme at its planning committee on Tuesday.