West Sussex County Council officially opened its 7.4 megawatt solar farm in Westhampnett near Chichester earlier this month. The council worked with its local energy partner, Your Energy Sussex, to create the 26,000-panel solar farm at a closed landfill site adjacent to the A27 at Westhampnett.

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Planning for the farm was granted in January 2017 and initially faced a great deal of opposition from local residents, with many complaining that the solar panels were too close to homes and would ruin views. West Sussex County Council, however, believes that by developing a solar farm at Westhampnett, it will be making use of land that is currently unsuitable for public access or development because of the presence of methane gas.

“The site was one of a number of sites that we looked at which are under the county council’s ownership, but have little value for other potential uses. It couldn’t be developed in any other way; it wouldn’t be suitable for housing or any other commercial/industrial use,” explains Tom Coates, senior advisor for Your Energy Sussex. He adds: “To us, it presented an opportunity to develop a site that is not having any negative impact in terms of movement of traffic, impact on schools or any other amenities.

The solar farm has been built with large on-site batteries, which means that surplus electricity can be stored and sold to the National Grid when demand is highest.

This helps to make use of the green energy and means that this solar farm is one of the first to be built without the need for central government subsidy through feed-in-tariffs and also generates additional income for the council.“

While this scheme isn’t directly making energy more affordable, the affordability element forms another part of our programme, which is linked to the energy tariff that we have running for residents,” says Tom. “That supports people with energy price volatility.”

Leader of West Sussex County Council, Louise Goldsmith (pictured above left with cabinet member for environment Deborah Urquhart) adds: “As the sunniest county we have focused on how best to utilise this natural source by investing in solar energy such as Westhampnett solar farm, Tangmere solar farm and our Solar Power for Schools programme. By launching Your Energy Sussex, our own not-for-profit energy supplier offering 100 per cent renewable electricity, we also want to make sure that our residents get the best deal on their home energy.” West Sussex County Council says the farm will generate enough energy to power 2,400 homes, including council buildings. Tangmere solar farm began operation in October 2015.



Artistic Therapy: work by Tony Heaton during an art gallery

A bin liner full of forgotten artwork by patients at the former West Sussex County Asylum, Graylingwell, in Chichester that was discovered by a relative of their former doctor has inspired a new art project.

Art has often been seen as an effective way to help people improve their mental health through creativity. And now West Sussex Record Office and the charity Outside In have been awarded a grant from the Wellcome Trust of £46,023 to preserve paintings by patients in art therapy sessions run by Dr Brian Vawdrey between 1951 and 1971.

The archive comprises 194 paintings as well as a copy of Vawdrey’s illustrated thesis, Art in Analysis. Outside In was founded in 2006 at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester and aims to provide a platform for artists who find it difficult to access the art world for reasons including health, disability, isolation or social circumstance.

The project starts on 19 November and runs until the end of June 2019. And nowthe organisers are opening applications for artists to get involved with this unique research project. Participants will get to create artwork and visual responses to the archive as well as complete self-directed study. Last month the charity also unveiled a new exhibition project. Outside In: Discover sees the charity take over the Mayfair offices of Cerno Capital and features the work of three of its artists. The exhibition will run until 23 November.

Visit: outsidein.org.uk