Why Ringmer Parish Council objected to the solar farm

The Parish Council Objection said:

  • The proposed solar farm and its high, industrial style, fencing would have a strongly negative impact on the Norlington Lane landscape, which is identified in the Ringmer Neighbourhood Plan as of special importance to residents due to its recreational value to Ringmer's walkers, cyclists and riders. The experience of users of the well-used public footpath that crosses the site would also be grossly devalued by the high security fencing to be installed on both sides of the footpath. Glare and glint from the solar farm would affect residents living in, or engaged in recreation in, the area.
  • The new solar farm would be prominent in views from neighbouring areas of the South Downs National Park.
  • The site is productive, high quality, agricultural land. Most of Ringmer is on Gault or Weald Clay, and grade 3b or lower, but almost all this land is freely-draining Lower Greensand, of significantly higher agricultural value, and selected by the Saxons who founded Norlington as their arable open field. Far more appropriate sites are available elsewhere in Ringmer, including one between Mount Farm and Bentley that was (unlike this site) submitted to the 2022 SHELAA and considered developable.
  • The proposal would have a strongly negative impact on the setting of the four 14th-16th century Historic England listed houses belonging to the shrunken medieval Norlington settlement along Norlington Lane.
  • The proposals for battery storage are inappropriately sited: this would cause nuisance to residents and users of Norlington Lane and create unnecessary security.

The pre-application consultation by Ovesco was carried out with bad faith, with false information supplied to the parish council (e.g. the statement that Norlington Lane residents had been consulted and supported the application) and highly relevant information kept hidden (e.g. that the development of the proposal was being bankrolled by Lewes DC).    There is a conflict of interest with LDC on more than one point:

  1. The lack of communication between LDC and RPC about their involvement and choice of site.
  2. The sudden appearance on Facebook of RISE, linked to Ovesco, the Phoenix Quarter development, Transition Town Lewes.
  3. A suggestion that the only way a carbon neutral development in Lewes might be achieved was by hard-wiring the Norlington Lane site to the development.

This proposal contravenes points 5.1 and 6.2 of the Neighbourhood plan.

    • The proposed site sits on good arable land and there is a real need to protect UK food production.
    • Norlington Lane is an important leisure/recreation route for walkers, cyclists, dog, walkers etc.
    • There will be a detrimental impact on local footpaths no 10 and 12.