AN MP has waded into a debate over the creation of the country’s second caviar farm in the Sussex countryside.

Maria Caulfield met with Fine food entrepreneur Ken Benning yesterday morning following a Parish Council meeting in the village of East Chiltington, at which the council agreed to pass on their ‘severe concerns’ over aspects of his planning application.

Ms Caulfield said: “I was very happy to have the opportunity to meet with Ken Benning so that I could personally raise the concerns that constituents had mentioned to me, relating to the proposed caviar farm.

“I would be very happy to meet with residents face to face to further discuss this matter”

Residents in the tiny hamlet packed the meeting on Thursday to share their fierce opposition to the plan over the the scale of changes to the landscape, the demands it will place on the natural water supply and its potential impact on sea trout spawning grounds.

Mr Kenning told The Argus: “It’s all about farming, and this is the right place because East Chiltington is a farming community. If you don’t like it, don’t live there.”

At Thursday evening’s Parish Council meeting, 30 of East Chiltington’s 260 residents filled the small Beechwood Hall Community Centre, largely to protest Mr Benning’s plans to build a fish farm in the midst of their quiet village.

The council, which does not have decision-making powers in the matter, agreed to pass on to Lewes District Council their concerns that the scheme contravened development policy and fears over its impact on the landscape.

The council noted it also had concerns over water usage and plans for a dwelling on the site.

Village resident John Anderson rose to voice opposition to the plan, calling it “inappropriate for the site,” “a destruction of our landscape,”.

“It brings nothing to the village,” he added.

He was also concerned that in the event of the business folding, there was no bond or plan for the restitution of the plot.

Ben Woodward, an aquaculture expert who is working with Mr Benning on the project, told the meeting: “People have questioned why it’s on a hill but hills make good fish farms. It reduces the energy use, because you use gravity.”

Lewes District Council is due to rule on the scheme next month.