Planners have given the go-ahead for a solar farm at Tangmere Airfield that will generate clean, low-carbon electricity and provide an income for West Sussex County Council.
The 4MW solar farm, covering 29 acres on the eastern edge of the airfield, will generate enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes when it begins operating in the summer.
The electricity generated will be sold to the National Grid, earning more than £10 million through feed-in tariffs over 20 years. The project will cost £4.1 million to build and pay for itself in less than ten years.
The scheme, which was approved by WSCC Planning Committee on 13 January 2015, is the first of its kind to be delivered by Your Energy Sussex, the West Sussex County Council-led partnership between local councils and Carillion which is working to promote energy saving and renewable energy.
Your Energy Sussex has a range of other solar schemes underway, including plans to fit solar panels on social housing across the county and provide low-cost electricity for tenants.
Michael Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We are delighted with the planning decision. This is good news for the economy and the environment in West Sussex and an excellent example of how West Sussex County Council is working in new and innovative ways on behalf of residents.
“By investing in solar and other renewable energy sources, we will reduce our carbon emissions and reliance on fossil fuels and support the growth of a thriving low-carbon economy with opportunities for Sussex businesses and the local workforce.”
The solar farm, located next to the nurseries and warehouses on the eastern side of the airfield, will be sensitively screened and developers will carry out work to improve habitats for native species. Sheep will also graze between the solar panels and help to maintain the site.
Planning permission has been granted for 25 years, which will allow the site to return to its natural state if it is no longer needed as a solar farm.
Your Energy Sussex is a West-Sussex-led partnership that works with residents, businesses and other partners to promote energy saving and renewable energy. With Carillion, the partnership has embarked on a 20-year programme of work to:
- create warmer, healthier homes and reduce carbon emissions;
- boost the local economy by creating work for local businesses;
- create opportunities for the local workforce, including work placements, apprenticeships and skills development; and
- help vulnerable residents and those at risk of failing to pay their fuel bills.
Your Energy Sussex is committed to using local, accredited companies to carry out work, creating local jobs, apprenticeships and other training opportunities.