VILLAGERS are celebrating after their fight against a proposed caviar farm finally ended in victory.

A government department was considering “calling-in” the decision on planning proposals for a six-acre fish farm in East Chiltington, but following Lewes District Council’s decision to reject the plan the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is to let the matter lie.

Furthermore the applicant, caviar farmer Kenneth Benning, has told The Argus he has “no plans” to appeal the decision.

The end of the six-month saga, which has galvanised and unified the residents of the tiny East Sussex village in their opposition to what they characterised as a “semi-industrial” plan, has come as a relief to campaigners.

Janet Downes, one of the masterminds of the “wrong thing, wrong place” campaign and the “save our sea trout” posters which have sprung up throughout the village, said she was “delighted”.

She added: “Wow, that is good news. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is but if he’s decided not to pursue it that’s good news for us.

“If it’s finally over... it’s gone on so long that you’re reluctant to believe it’s finally over. But it’s a beautiful day today made better by the knowledge that the farm has lost planning permission

“As I met my neighbours and friends up and down the lane everyone was very, very happy that this decision had been taken and planning permission refused.”

On Wednesday evening, proposing the motion to refuse the application, Councillor Vic Ient cited concerns over the viability of the experimental business model, the impact on the intrinsic character of the area and the plan’s failure to enhance the community.

Several councillors also expressed concern over the inclusion of a three-bedroom dwelling on site, although the meeting heard from experts that the caviar to be farmed at the site would have a value of £3 million over three years and an on-site employee was a crucial security measure.

After the meeting Kenneth Benning told The Argus: “I have no plans to appeal the decision. I will be focused on recouping my expenses on that piece of land somehow, this process has cost a great deal of money.”

In September The Argus broke the news of the plans - which would have turned a modest plot of land at one end of the tiny village into a caviar farm with a wind turbine, a miniature reservoir and five water beds. It would have been used to rear the five-feet sturgeon whose eggs would be farmed for the delicacy.

But residents of the hamlet opposed the plans fiercely, erecting signs and writing more than 100 letters of objection, on the grounds that it would scar the landscape, disrupt their peaceful community and drain water from sea trout spawning grounds.