Want to voice your support for Ouse Valley Solar Farm?

The planning application for a solar farm near Ringmer to generate enough power for 4,800 homes has now been submitted to Lewes District Council. Public support can have a lot of influence on planning permission being granted. If you’re in favour, here’s how you can voice your support. 

Ouse Valley Solar Farm at Norlington Farm near Ringmer is an ambitious project led by local community energy company Ovesco to create a solar array that will generate around 17 megawatts of power – enough to power 4,800 homes.

The project could make a massive contribution to Lewes District Council’s aim to reach ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2030. The project has also been designed to support local biodiversity and for surplus profits to be invested directly back into the local community. You can read more about the farm and its planned benefits in the briefing document here.

Four steps to voice your support
After extensive public consultation, the plans for the solar farm have now been submitted for consent. Public support can make a huge difference to whether plans get permission or not. If you’re in favour or the farm or would like to make a comment to Lewes District Council (the planning authority) here’s how to do it: 

To register your support for the planning application:

  1. Please go to the planning portal https://planningpa.lewes.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple&searchType=Application
  2. When prompted please input the following planning reference LW/22/0254
  3. Click “Comments” then “Make a comment”
  4. Make your comment ideally by Thursday 19 May, which is the consultation expiry date.

You may choose to refer to the following benefits in your comments:

  • Ouse Valley Solar Farm is expected to generate up to 17MW of clean renewable electricity to the National Grid
  • This proposal would assist Lewes District Council in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions in line with local, national and international targets and the declared Climate Emergency.
  • The proposal would generate the equivalent electrical needs of approximately 4,800 family homes which equates to an anticipated CO2 displacement of around 6,800 tonnes per annum.
  • Significant biodiversity net gain is also expected with a 234% net gain in habitat areas and 104% net gain in hedgerow areas.
  • As a community energy project, local residents have the ability to invest in Ouse Valley Solar Farm and receive an annual return on their investment. All further profits from the solar farm will be invested directly back into the local community.

All the document relating to the planning application are on the planning portal. They include the Agricultural Land Assessment (ALC) confirming the land is ‘grade 3B’ following testing of the soil.

If you have any queries about the project, contact ousevalleysolar@ovesco.co.uk




  1. Rosalyn St Pierre

    I support the appliation for a solar farm at Norlington Farm. Several reasons: this area has poor number of sustainable energy schemes; a solar project at Norlington Farm will stop the huge suburban development at Bishop’s Lane spreading down to South Malling; and finally sheep can graze under solar panels so the area keeps the rural aspect. I understand there are objections, but I faced objections as the county councillor representing Ringmer and Lewes Bridge in supporting the Glyndebourne application for one turbine. I was privileged to sit next to David Attenborough when he made the case for protecting the Downs from endless fossil fuel pollution. The turbine now is a source of local pride.

  2. Chris Yarrow

    I SUPPORT the application on the following grounds:
    1. It will add significantly to clean energy at a time of climate crisis.
    2. The land will be managed for significant wildlife gains.
    3. The site is of low landscape significance.
    4. If required the site could quickly be reclaimed for more intensive agriculture.
    5. Power production could begin in a fraction of the time and cost it takes to build a nuclear power station, which would entail ongoing security and decommissioning costs for centuries to come.

  3. Chris Rowland

    OVESCO was set up 15 years ago by supporters of Transition Town Lewes with the purpose of generating clean renewable energy locally. As a Director of OVESCO, I want to say thank you to everyone putting in their support right now for the Ouse Valley Solar Farm. We are facing a Climate Emergancey and need to get off our fossil fuel addiction as fast as we can. The Ouse Valley Solar Farm will make a significant contribution to our energy needs, at a time when we are very focused on energy security needs and costs. This solar farm will increase biodiversity and bring significant wildlife benefits, on what is currently grade 3B intensively farmed land. This is an OVESCO community energy project, which will have an opportunity for local investment and long-term community benfits. So please put in your SUPPORT for the Ouse Valley Solar Farm before Thursday 19th May.

  4. Chris Rowland

    Doug Parr the chief scientist for Greenpeace has given support for Ouse Valley Solar Farm.

  5. Chris Rowland

    Jonathon Porritt has sent in letter of support for Ouse Valley Solar Farm

  6. Chris Rowland

    Jonathon Porritt has sent in letter of support, it’s on the Lewes District planning portal.

  7. Chris Rowland

    Rob Hopkins who inspired TTL asking for OVSF to be supported

  8. Chris Rowland

    Doug Parr at Greenpeace – I am writing as policy Director on behalf of Greenpeace UK in support of this proposed solar farm. It is vitally important in the context of climate change, sky-high fossil fuel prices that cheap renewable power is delivered to the UK. Solar power is one of those sources that can do that. We are in a climate emergency – as I write record spring temperatures are threatening livelihoods and food production across India and Pakistan. Carbon Brief have calculated that new solar (and wind) are six times cheaper than running existing gas plant to provide our electricity. Greenpeace support this application

  9. Liam

    Fully support this application. Sorely needed to meet the need to decarbonise and save our planet.

  10. Mark Robinson-Sivyer

    Living locally, I fully support this application and project as an essential thing to do in a time of climate crisis. We don’t as a country produce anywhere near the power we need and without these forward thinking projects, our planet will be a dire place for our children and grandchildren to live in. Full marks to OVESCO!

  11. Chris Rowland

    I am fully supportive of this planning application for a community owned 17MW solar farm.

    We are facing a Global Climate Emergancey, which Lewes District Council signed up to act on in July 2019 and stated, ‘Through our Climate Emergency Declaration we are committed to progressing towards our 2030 carbon reduction targets, and to improving our environment in partnership with our communities’. The Ouse Valley Solar Farm will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with local, national and international targets and the declared Climate Emergency.

    The site was chosen because: it has a viable grid connection, a landowner willing to lease the land and it is located in one of the sunniest parts of the UK. It will generate the equivalent electricity as consumed by approximately 4800 homes, saving 6800 tonnes of CO2 each year. Sites for solar projects such as this are limited by the electricity grid constraints and the capacity to connect to the District Network. They are especialy difficult to find in a region with a National Park, pockets of dense housing, woodland and potential flood risk.

    The Ecological Assessment clearly shows there will be a significant biodiversity uplift of 234% for habitats and 104% for linear units. This will hugely increase local wildlife and proved a haven for birds, bats, insect’s, grasses, trees and wildflowers.

    The Agricultural Land Classification clearly shows that the land is not high grade, following extensive soil sampling the results showed that the land is degraded and only grade 3B.

    The arrangement with the local landowner is not permanent, it uses a lease, unlike a housing development project it is not permanent and it will prevent the building of houses on the lease land during the life of the project.

    During consultation in Ringmer, OVESCO listened to the public and adapted the project to take into account their concerns which included:

    – Traffic – all major construction traffic will be off the A26. Once constructed the site will require minimal maintenance.

    – Visual impact – the site boundary was carefully adapted allowing for a buffer zone and hedging to site between local residents and the outer edge of the solar panels in the fields.

    – Noise – string inverters will be used instead of centralised inverters. Centralised inverters are now considered to be old technology.

    The project will be owned by a Community Benefit Society in the same way as all OVESCO’s current solar projects. Rates will be paid to the Local Authority to contribute to local services at a time when all local government needs income to maintain essential services. Local people will be able to invest and be members of the Ouse Valley Solar Farm. There is the potential for a significant community benefit fund for the benefit of the Lewes District.

    Both Kings Academy Ringmer and OVESCO are the recipients of prestigious Ashden Award, only given to renewable energy projects demonstrating significant environmental and community benefits. Ringmer Parish and the Lewes District now has the opportunity to demonstrate its is leading the way to act on Climate Change. Energy security and rising energy costs are currently a significant concern for all of us. Solar power is now one of the cheapest forms of energy in the world and simply produced from the sun. The Ouse Valley Solar Farm will deliver clean local energy for our future and a younger generation who desperately need to see that we are all doing what we can to protect their future on this fragile home which we call The Earth.

  12. Frank Warren

    I don’t support this application. I live nearby in Ringmer. This scheme is simply too big for the area and should be scaled back. Ringmer is already blighted by new development proposals. Sustainable energy is great but everyone should bear the burden and not just the people of Ringmer. Where is Lewes’s sustainable energy scheme???

    • GC

      As a resident of Ringmer I agree completely with Frank Warren and do not support this application. I completely support sustainable energy but a project of this size is simply too big for Ringmer.

  13. Jan Mortimer

    Lewes District Council has, in the past, been proactive in supporting solar energy which must be one of the most progressive and efficient ways of renewable power, especially, counter to the frequently-repeated message of “when the sun doesn’t shine”, simply needs daylight. Having installed panels on my East/West-facing house in 2012, I say this with passion.

    We are highly populated in the South East and it is essential that we utilise every method possible to progress the use of renewables. Please support this application.

  14. John Fowler, Bexhill

    As a long-time member of the Rother Environment Group I congratulate Lewes in supporting this Solar Farm Project & trust that it will be able to be implemented soon before energy Bills rise even more.

  15. Linda Grange

    I write as a Ringmer resident but I also in general support TTL, Common Cause and the work done by Ovesco, predominantly in Lewes but also work in Barcombe to eliminate oil dependency.

    I don’t think that anyone would disagree with the fact that we have a climate crisis and need to reduce our dependency on oil and gas. However increasing capacity is a short term solution when we should be focusing on reducing consumption and looking at schemes which would directly affect those on low incomes who are more in need of our support. I do not agree with sacrificing greenfield sites, which LDC are committed to protect, nor agricultural land, when LDC have a key policy to find land which could be used for food production

    There is a lot of misinformation and misdirection in statements from TTL, Ovesco etc in the support for this scheme. I will cover the some of the main ones raised by Chris Rowland, a director of Ovesco.

    – Grid connection
    Ringmer already has a solar farm at Upper Clayhill Farm which is on an acceptable site. Despite being allowed temporary permission for 30 years plus 6 months, this was then extended to 40 years and could be extended further, not so temporary but Ringmer had no problem with this. The farm could potentially be extended in size which would be a much more sensible and cheaper option. The proposed “Ouse Valley” solar farm would connected into the same grid point as this so we know that there is capacity. There is another smaller farm which also has grid connection.

    – Availability
    The Call for Sites included 2 additional sites for solar farms in Ringmer and 1 in Firle. These were promoted by the landowners so have been included within the Interim LAA as available, which the proposed site is not, in fact it is not even included Adjacent sites have consistently been rejected for inclusion in SHELAAs due to proximity to the SDNP amongst other concerns. One of these available sites is even adjacent to an existing small solar farm. Either of these 2 sites plus the existing farm would be supported by the majority of Ringmer residents over this site. Where is the feasibility study for these?

    – Sunshine
    It is said that this is one of the sunniest areas of the UK but this covers the whole of East Sussex and would presumably cover other locations within Lewes District Council including the other available sites. In fact the sunniest locations are on the coast.

    – Agricultural value
    This site has previously been assessed as grade 3a overall but there are small pockets of 3b, regardless this counts as best available. Next time you see Strouds sweetcorn on a market stall in England or eat sweetcorn from a major supermarket, perhaps think about this.

    -Community benefit
    Ovesco did not in fact listen to residents, There will be no direct benefit to Ringmer, unlike from Lightsource at Upper Clayhill. The idea that Ringmer residents could afford to buy shares at £250 is unrealistic. If the Local Electricity Bill was supported and passed, and I assume LDC is in favour of this, then indeed we could directly benefit as the local power generated would be used by local residents in Ringmer. Instead some of the output would be used to directly feed into the Phoenix Project for them to attain carbon neutral status and some of the projected profit would be used to appoint a new officer post to oversee other local energy schemes as well as this.

    There are many other considerations for those who wish to look into the facts but this is not about solar energy but about a totally inappropriate and unsuitable location.

    I am reassured by the level of support for renewable energy and look forward to seeing petitions from residents outside of Ringmer, especially from Lewes Town, to push their Planning Authorities for solar farms to be installed in their areas.

  16. John Kay

    It is notable that all the TTL comments in support of building this solar farm in Norlington Lane, Ringmer, are from people who don’t actually live in Ringmer, and thus do not understand how devastating the Ovesco proposal to trash the treasured landscape of Norlington Lane actually is. The land is excellent productive farmland (the medieval open field of the Norlington settlement). This lane and its setting are demonstrably special to Ringmer people – noted as such back in the 2016 Ringmer Neighbourhood Plan. Norlington Lane is our main recreational lane, used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. I love it, and felt physically sick when I realised this was a serious plan. Now I’m closer to angry.

    It now appears that this plan was cooked up between Ovesco and Lewes DC in a way that was kept carefully hidden from Ringmer’s residents until as late in the day as possible. The Lewes DC SHELAA (published after we now know Lewes DC had agreed to bankroll Ovesco) includes two other proposed solar farm sites in Ringmer (one at least far more suitable than this one). This was was NOT submitted, but kept secret instead. When Ovesco came to Ringmer parish council to break the news, they told us that almost all the Norlington Lane residents supported or were neutral about their plan. Now every Norlington Lane house has its ‘No Solar Farm’ sign, including the ones that had Green posters outside at the last election. Did Ovesco tell the same untruth to Lewes DC?

    Comments from Ringmer residents are currently running 10:1 against this proposal, and last week Ringmer Parish Council voted unanimously to propose it. However, I suppose it is much more important that Jonathan Porritt, who I’m sure must have an excellent knowledge of Ringmer from his Cheltenham base, thinks it’s a great idea.

    The approach used by Ovesco in promoting this scheme seems to have a very great deal in common with that used by Cuadrilla in their plans for fracking at Balcombe – exactly the same level of sensitivity to landscape and the same concern about the impact of their plans on others. They both know they know what is good for us better than we do ourselves.

  17. John Frizell

    As a Lewes resident I strongly support this application and believe it will be good for Lewes and beyond – we are facing a global climate crisis which demands we find low carbon ways to produce energy and start using them now. Also, this helps us reduce dependence on imported energy.
    Approving this application will be a concrete step against the climate crisis.

    All the best

    John Frizell

  18. Lisandro Kaunitz

    Nice project!.We need thousands of project like this one to create our independence from energy imports


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