Planners back Catsfield solar farm proposal

A new solar farm at Catsfield has been marked for approval by planners at Rother District Council.

The photovoltaic park, which will generate enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes, is proposed for land east of the B2204 at Catsfield Stream.

Planners refused an earlier application for the same site in November last year on the grounds that it represented a ‘significant visual intrusion on the landscape’ and that it would be out of keeping with the rural area.

The new application is for a substantially reduced area of development and number of solar panel units and includes more substantial landscaping in the form of additional treebelts.

The original application, from Iota Solar Ltd, was for an area covering 24 hectares, while the new one is for 11.1 hectares.

It now comprises only one field of solar panels; the larger western field of the previous scheme. The field to the east has been deleted along with the smaller field on the edge of Christmas Tree Farm adjacent to the public footpath.

Only an area of 3.3 hectares will actually be covered with panels. The rest would by boundary and screening.

A space of 3-4 metres is left between the rows of panels to ensure that there is no overshadowing and to allow space for sheep to graze and the grass and wildflower mix to grow.

The hedge proposed for screening has now been upgraded to a 10 metre wide woodland belt, to offer better screening.

The current application is still being opposed by the parish council who claim it will still have an adverse visual effect on the landscape.

It has also drawn letters of objection from 29 residents, some of who claim it will ‘blight the landscape.’

But there have also been 22 letters on support of the approval.

Rother Council’s planning committee were due to make a decision as the Observer went to press on April 9. Officers were recommending granting full planning.