By Nik Butler
I’m trying to summon the outrage, the anger, the disbelief, at the current comments and vitriol aimed at protesters. Instead I find myself cosied within a sense of ennui at the results and commentary which followed the Ashhurst Solar Farm application. Interestingly there was no police presence or concern regarding protests when the application was put through. I note though there is a clear concern over public attendance at the planning conversation regarding Hydraulic exploration in Balcombe.
No doubt there will be more “concern” regarding protests as more for Hydrocarbon explorations are presented in order to “explore” more of West Sussex. Throughout those discussions, and despite a very clear and vocal public outrage which exists, the attitude is that those complaining are the same tree hugging group as before. The assumptions, like many created around these topics, are inaccurate. These protests are being attended by individuals who go beyond the traditional class of usual suspects. Concerns about Fracking are attracting awareness from a wider, more affluent, cross section of the Sussex community. You might believe that with such a wide scope of people invested in asking for those plans to be cancelled that voices would be heard.
However, as we have seen before, the council seem deaf to the electorate yet considerate to the corporate. As if the purpose of governance was to open doors to enterprise and place barriers to protest. Is it symptomatic of bad science or poor protesting that continually leaves councillors unable to “do the maths”.
Renewable energy, irrespective of its efficiency, would soon offset our energy needs and in doing so it would reduce dependency. As a thought experiment, for those with a Mortgage, would you reject the offer of £10 a week to pay off your mortgage? Would your reasons be that it was too small, won’t make enough of an impact, and that its not efficient to accept cost reductions. Meanwhile an application that will do nothing to help pay off that mortgage, the investment in energy usage, will require the acceptance of a tenant who plans to leave most of their waste behind when they leave. Whilst only offering to pay a tiny percentage of their investment for using that space. None of this makes sense. How can there be so many councillors with experience in property management and in property rental who are incapable of seeing long term investment in renewables?