West Sussex sustainable energy study

Opportunities and planning requirements for renewable and low-carbon energy

In the Spring of 2009, five local authorities in West Sussex (Arun, Chichester, Horsham, Mid Sussex and Worthing) engaged CSE to undertake a study that would help them develop Local Development Framework (LDF) policies which would lead to lower energy consumption from buildings, and more sustainable energy generation.

The councils also needed the study to provide the robust evidence base that would underpin their responses to the government’s Planning and Climate Change Supplement which requires local authority planners to adequately address sustainability issues and contribute to global sustainability by addressing the causes and potential impacts of climate change.

The study was undertaken by CSE in conjunction with Impetus Consulting Ltd and Land Use Consultants. The report was authored by CSE and:

  • investigates the local sustainable energy resources that exist in West Sussex and evaluates them for their carbon-reduction potential
  • considers the sustainable energy resources in the context of proposed new developments in the area and the need for increasingly challenging standards for carbon emissions
  • models a set of policy scenarios for new residential development
  • assesses the potential for decentralised energy supply such as district heating networks
  • makes recommendations for policy and discusses issues around their implementation

In terms of renewable energy resources, the study estimated the potential for all technologies and mapped these using GIS techniques where relevant (see photos). Our calculations suggested a possible carbon saving of 46.4%. This highlights the scale of the challenge presented by the Government’s national target of an 80% emissions reduction by 2050 over 1990 levels.

The significant shortfall will have to be addressed by measures including absolute demand reduction through behaviour change, increased energy efficiency in existing buildings, low carbon transport measures, and decarbonising the national grid.

The two main options for renewables are wind and biomass. The key issue for the former is its impact on ‘designated areas’ and landscape character as the prime sites for large-scale wind are within the South Downs which will soon receive National Park status. Although wind power is not formally prohibited in these areas there will be significant constraints to deployment, particularly for large and medium scale installations.

The development of energy crops is less constrained by landscape issues, but here the key challenges will be convincing farmers to invest in this crop, and the time needed to establish energy crop plantations – at least three years in the case of willow.

A third option, solar, is constrained by the economic climate.

For the full report, click here.

Contact janine.michael@cse.org.uk for further information on how CSE can help local authorities meet their climate change and renewable energy planning policy obligations.

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