Rural learning centre goes green

Adults with learning difficulties at The Great Outdoors environmental education centre. New solar panel installation on workshop
Adults with learning difficulties at The Great Outdoors environmental education centre. New solar panel installation on workshop

A rural centre which connects children, young people and adults with special learning needs, dementia or mental health conditions directly to the countryside is happy to be going even greener.

At The Great Out-tours based at Woodside, Horam, solar power firm Randall have sponsored a new solar panel system which has now been installed on the workshop roof.

It’s set to generate more than 100kWh of electricity per year and over 25 years will hsave more than 12 tonnes of CO2.

All the energy generated will be used to supply the electricity needs of the workshop increasing the sustainability of the project as a whole. The Great Out-tours will also benefit from the Feed In Tariff, the incentive payment made for solar PV.

John Brooksbank from Woodside said: “We try to enrich and empower everyone who comes here and hope they can see, interpret and understand the beauty and importance of our counryside. With this new found knowledge we hope our visitors can apply it to their own lives. And we hope it also improves their prospects for education, taking part in community life and employment.”

He went on: “This energy system will provide a diverse and topical learning resource to our clients as well as enhancing our drive to make the farm fully sustainable. The solar power will run all our lighting, cooling, heating and electrical equipment. Alongside we are also developing further energy systems like harvesting the rainfall to our farm buildings and using this to water the plants our visitors grow. It also provides a vital drink supply for all our farm livestock.”

There is also a reedbed filtration system linked to toilets on the site, which filters effluent and produces clear water.

Joel Randall of Randall Solar Ltd., visited the site last week to inspect the system. While he was there the group of youngsters at the farm showed him a nest box they had made using power tools. The jigsaw and electrically charged power tools they used were run entirely with electricity from the new solar panels.

“The nest box was made from recycled wood (other people’s cast offs and preservative paint sponsored by a national firm)” John said. “This highlights our quest to make completely sustainable products and teach our clients about the importance of sustainability.”

The nest box has now been placed in a tree within the Woodside grounds, hopefully to attract a pair of barn owls that are often seen hunting the farm fields.