Council considers investment in green energy

Wealden Council is looking at ways to invest in low carbon and renewable energy for the benefit of council tax payers.

It says in a press release that it wants to find local opportunities which make both commercial and environmental sense for the district.

A report to cabinet this month summarises some of the options that may be available, including the potential for solar photovoltaic panels, both large and smaller scale installations, and the use of heat networks to distribute heat and (in the case of combined heat and power) electricity locally.

It also considers the provision of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and whether the council could play a role in promoting the take up of electric vehicles in the district.

Investing in the local electric vehicle charging infrastructure could encourage the take up of electric vehicles, lowering vehicle emissions and helping to mitigate the impact this has on Ashdown Forest.

Council leader Cllr Bob Standley said: “This report looks at all the options regarding power generation, reducing the impact on climate change and whether they have the potential for adding to our revenue.

“We now need to look further to see whether some options are worth pursuing. If there are any that might involve large capital investments, we will see about involving other partners. We will also make sure we don’t compete with other authorities in the same field.”

Cllr Standley said he was also conscious of the council’s responsibilities when it came to landscape protection, and its need to consider the 60% of the district which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Environmental mitigation measures already announced as part of the ongoing Local Plan include the provision of charging points for electric vehicles in public places.

They also include the provision of appropriate EV charging infrastructure in new developments and the provision of electric public transport if proposed development leads to a net increase in traffic.

In recent years, planning permission has been granted for some eight solar farms in the district, the largest being allocated 13 megawatts of generating capacity.

The council itself already has a number of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on its retirement living courts, general needs housing units, and on the council offices in Vicarage Lane. It is now classed as a multi-site generator.

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