A solar farm developer is appealing the council’s decision to refuse it planning permission despite their research showing support from local residents.
Inazin applied to build a solar energy generator at Huddlestone Farm in Steyning earlier this year, but the planning officer recommended refusal because of its impact on the landscape.
Horsham District Council (HDC) turned down the plan along with two other solar farm applications by separate developers in Ashurst and Partridge Green at a development planning committee meeting on April 15.
Geoff Barnard of Steyning 10:10, an action group for climate change, supports the appeal and conducted its own survey to gauge local opinion.
“Steyning 10:10 believes the Huddlestone solar park would be a real boon to our community and a significant contributor to local energy supplies,” he said.
“Armed with the results of our survey, we also think it would be popular, as the weight of local opinion is strongly behind it.”
Asking the question ‘Overall, are you in favour of the Huddlestone Farm Scheme?’ the survey indicated that 91 per cent of the 230 respondents were in favour of the scheme, including 67 per cent who were strongly in favour.
This compared to less than 5 per cent who were against, or strongly against it - a margin of nineteen to one in favour.
In February, two residents, Anita Rudkin and David Blake, living in close proximity to the site objected to the renewable energy generator claiming it would ‘spoil’ the view for them and those who enjoy the bridle path known as Steyning Walk, a countryside attraction for tourists and residents.
If built the solar photovoltaic (PV) farm would power the equivalent of 3,000 homes and save on carbon emissions, according to Inazin.
The developer has pledged to offer a number of benefits to the community including 30kW of PV panels for Steyning Grammar School; contributing £10,000 per annum for 20 years as a community payment to fund local energy projects; and launch a Huddlestone Community Bond, offering an innovative and low risk way for people to invest in the solar farm themselves, as stated by Inazin in its proposal.
Mr Barnard said: “The fact that the scheme will provide an unusually good package of direct benefits to the local community is an important added attraction.”
This month, the High Court has overturned a decision by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, the communities and local government secretary, to block a 24MW solar farm in Suffolk, calling his original decision ‘perverse’.