A group in Balcombe in West Sussex, scene of some of the UK’s biggest anti-fracking protests, has won approval for a solar farm that would supply the village and its neighbour with all their electricity.
Mid Sussex District Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plan, described as one of the most ambitious community solar projects so far.
It will have 18,500 panels and generate five megawatts of electricity, enough for Balcombe and West Hoathly.
10:10, a campaign group supporting the RePower Balcombe project, described the decision as “fantastic news”.
“This isn’t just about getting power from the sun. It’s about the power of an example: a community thrust into the limelight and branded nimbies for opposing fracking, rolling up their sleeves to build something better”, it said.
“This is one of the most ambitious community solar projects ever, and very soon we’ll be asking the whole country to help make it happen. People all over the world are watching Balcombe right now, hoping this can work. Soon we’ll have a chance to prove them right.”
The RePower Balcombe initiative to generate electricity from alternatives to fossil fuels was launched following protests in 2013 outside Cuadrilla’s exploratory oil well on the edge of the village.
To be financially viable, the solar farm needs to be installed and connected to the grid by the end of March to beat a deadline for cuts to solar subsidies.