Council’s latest plans for solar panels in Hastings Country Park

The council has confirmed it is looking at two possible sites to install solar panels in Hastings Country Park.

Friday, 10th January 2020, 12:13 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 12:28 pm
Hastings Country Park SUS-180412-135158001

One is the field to the south of the milking parlour, the other is the former helipad site.

Cllr Maya Evans, lead councillor for climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development, said: “As part of our pledge to go carbon neutral by 2030, the council has taken initial steps to gather information about potential sites. Currently, we are part way through a consultation process to discover whether ground-mounted solar arrays on certain fields in the country park are viable.

“We have discounted two of the original four sites we were looking at, to the west of the milking parlour in the country park, and Upper Wilting Farm.

“There is an exclusion zone around a WWII military aircraft crash site in the country park, which is protected as a war grave. And the site we were looking at near Upper Wilting Farm may fall within the site of another WWII ‘plane crash site. Any further exploration would need a licence from the Ministry of Defence.

“Hastings Borough Council wants to activity play its part in tackling climate change by installing renewable energy infrastructure on all viable sites within the town. This includes car parks, rooftops and farming fields in the country parks.

“In order to ensure a sensible and pragmatic decision, we need to gather all available information so that we can strike a balance between getting to carbon neutrality while protecting the unique heritage and natural beauty of our diverse and beautiful town.”

But campaigners said they were still against the latest proposals.

Michael Moor, chairman of The Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve, said: “We remain strongly opposed to the council’s plan for industrial scale solar arrays in an area which the council itself designated as a nature reserve and is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“It is interesting, if depressing, to see the council changing its ideas about possible sites as they come to realise the implications of particular areas. So now they realise that they can’t disturb a possible war grave in the nature reserve.

“But the potential site below the Milking Parlour is immediately above Fairlight Glen which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. And what the council describes as the ‘helipad’ is actually a different site close to North’s Seat, the highest point in landscape.

“The development would be on the first open land at the corner of Fairlight Road and Mill Lane coming up the hill from Hastings. We very much hope that Natural England, as the Government’s environmental regulator, is going to take a tough line on the council’s damaging plans.”

Hastings and Rye MP, Sally-Ann Hart, said: “The proposed siting of 10 acres of solar panels in Hastings Country Park is unacceptable.

“The proposed siting are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and SSSI. It is a nature reserve over which the borough council has responsibility of stewardship, a responsibility which should not include income generation from solar panels at the expense of damage to the local environment and ecosystems.”

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