Lucas welcomes Sussex solar farm news

Green MP Caroline Lucas has welcomed a decision by Mid Sussex District Council to grant planning permission for a community-owned solar farm.

The 5MW solar park will be built in the West Sussex village of Balcombe.

With more than 18,500 panels, it would not only match the electricity demand of Balcombe, but that of the nearby village of West Hoathly too.

The plans have been drawn up by the Repower Balcombe group, who have already completed three solar installations totalling 44kWp.

The group will start raising the cash to fund their solar park later this month, and are inviting the whole country to help make it happen.

“Soon Repower Balcombe will be asking the nation to invest in this project and people across the country will have the opportunity to get involved in this positive vision for our energy future,” said Millie Darling, Campaign Manager, 10:10.

Thomas Parker, Technical Director at Repower Balcombe said: "This is great news. We're ecstatic. Now it's time to get to work start raising finance and start building our community solar farm. It's really happening. The fracking village is going solar.”

Speaking after the decision was made by the local planning committee, Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was “great news” that the project has been given the go-ahead.

“This solar installation will be locally owned, wildlife-friendly and a real asset to the community,” said Ms Lucas.

“Balcombe is showing how things can be done differently – to the benefit of local people. Brilliant projects like this really do highlight the prospects of community-owned renewables projects.

“I hope Government ministers have their eyes on Balcombe today – and that the huge success there persuades them of the urgent need to rethink their short-sighted cuts to support for Britain’s renewables industry.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues