Eastbourne environmentalist urges council to follow solar panel scheme

An Eastbourne environmentalist has encouraged the council to consider following Hastings by setting up a solar panel scheme.

An Eastbourne environmentalist has encouraged the council to consider following Hastings by setting up a solar panel scheme.

Andrew Durling, who is a coordinator at Eastbourne Friends of the Earth Society and a director at Eastbourne Eco Action Network, suggested the idea after Hastings Borough Council promoted its ‘solar for businesses’ scheme.

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The initiative aims to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint and save money by installing solar photovoltaics (PV).

Andrew Durling is a coordinator at Eastbourne Friends of the Earth Society and a director at Eastbourne Eco Action Network SUS-150805-080028001

Hastings Borough Council will plan, finance, install and manage the solar panels as part of the scheme and will also monitor and maintain the system once installed.

The installation is financed by the council and there are no up-front costs to the businesses.

The initiative has led to Mr Durling questioning why a similar scheme cannot be set up in Eastbourne.

Mr Durling said, “Even if it (Eastbourne Borough Council) cannot afford it by itself, it should partner with community energy co-ops that can help.

“We are blessed in this area with some really good community energy co-ops.

“We have a really flourishing community of community energy co-ops that can handle all the funding.”

Mr Durling, who lives in Pevensey, said community energy co-ops help install and fund solar panels in the town.

The environmentalist also discussed how important the movement could be if the town wants to reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

He said, “I think it is critical because no council can reach its 2030 target unless it facilitates the extremely rapid take up of renewable energy within the local area.

“Solar power is the cheapest and easiest way.

“The cost of solar panel installation is so low and it is also quicker. It only takes a few days to put a solar panel PV up.”

Mr Durling said that if Hastings Borough Council can offer this scheme, so can others.

He said, “It is obvious that any council, not just Eastbourne, can offer similar sorts of schemes and it is not a question of if the council can spend their own money, it is a question of the council forming a team of community organisations who can help and can get the scheme up and running.”

Mr During emphasised the importance of renewable energy considering how vulnerable the town is to rising sea levels.

He said, “It is particularly important in Eastbourne because we are a coastal community. Parts of the town are extremely low-lying.

“As climate change worsens the town is very vulnerable to the rising level of the sea.

“It is important that we are doing our fair share of making the world safe from catastrophe.

“If we do not do it, how can we expect people to follow?”

Mr Durling said a solar panel scheme might also boost the local economy as businesses could have cheaper energy rates.

He said, “It is a win-win for the local economy, community and people.”

An Eastbourne Borough Council spokesperson said, “Helping to enable the uptake of community-owned solar is an area under consideration.

“We work closely with the sector and have a regular dialogue with Community Energy South.

“Reducing emissions from the private and commercial sector will be key to meeting our 2030 goal of achieving carbon net zero.”