The name Balcombe may ring a bell – it’s the Sussex village that was in the news last year as one of the pilot sites for Britain’s nascent fracking industry. It spent the summer under siege as anti-fracking campaigners camped in the village to obstruct the drilling activities. It left the community somewhat shell-shocked, and divided between those who supported the protestors and those who thought they were just as disruptive and messy as the frackers.
Balcombe became the epicentre of the storm around Britain’s future energy, a position it never chose. Now that things have settled, it has had a chance to regroup and the response is a symbolic one, a positive statement on energy after all that protest. REPOWER Balcombe is a community energy co-op that aims to generate enough solar power to provide electricity to all 760 homes in the village.
The first solar panels will go up on a farm in the next few weeks, with local investors using their own capital to start the project. Once it is underway, people from around the country will be able to invest too.
The community has been working with 10:10, and it’s a powerful statement, one of the more positive energy stories I’ve read in a while. Balcombe will not just be the village that said no to fracking. It will be the village that took responsibility for its own energy, and chose renewable.