Livery yard owners ask for a new site for solar farm

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A SOLAR farm designed to generate enough energy to power 2,000 homes remains a reality despite opposition from residents in Ninfield.

Lightsource Renewable Energy wants to erect the panels on land at St Francis Farm in Potmans Lane and the firm this week confirmed it was putting the finishing touches to designs.

The landowner has been in talks with the farm’s current tenants and the nearby St Francis Farm Livery. Should they decide to go ahead with the proposals, Lightsource – which says it is awaiting instruction from the owner – will finalise plans before making a public announcement.

Opposition to the mooted development continued this week, with an open letter being sent to Lightsource and councillors by locals keen to voice their concerns.

The letter, from concerned trio Jacqueline Faith, Andrew Faith and Betty Stringer, urged local decision makers to move to protect the livery businesses, which they say the development will have a major impact upon.

They said: “This proposal will ruin an environmentally compatible business of 30 years. St Francis Farm Livery employs local people, encourages the equine education of young people from local schools and Bexhill College through work experience and hands-on practical experience of horses.

“It provides a safe environment for families and their horses to have lessons, compete and hack out. There are third generation children enjoying their ponies and learning about equine care.

“The solar plant may not have moving parts but they are still ugly and will be protected by unsightly fencing.

“There are other sites equally as good in the area that would have no objection to supporting this project, please choose them.”

A spokesman for Lightsource however was adamant the firm had done all it could to keep any negative impact to a minimum.

They told the Observer: “We have conducted a very detailed community consultation on our proposals for a solar farm installation for land at St Francis Farm.

“We would like to thank the equine community, local residents, parish councillors and everyone else who have written to us with their feedback and concerns.

“We remain committed to our statement that we believe we are able to integrate our solar farm proposals and design around the livery, its activities and its values.

“We also continue to highlight that our designs are flexible and we can incorporate riding tracks, equine fencing, traffic management plan to further integrate our proposals and cause minimal disruptions to the activities of the livery.

“The chosen land area is very well screened by mature hedgerow and therefore will cause minimal visual impact to surrounding properties. A detailed visual impact assessment will be carried out and submitted with the planning permission if we decide to progress our proposals.”

More information on the proposals are available online at www.lightsource-re.co.uk. Locals can also contact the firm by phone on 0333 200 0755 or email info@lightsource-re.co.uk with reference ‘St Francis Farm’.