Plans to power a Sussex village entirely by solar energy have been approved.
Balcombe was famously the focus of anti-fracking protests. Planning permission has been granted for 18,500 panels generating enough electricity, not just for its own residents, but also for a neighbouring village.
A decision is due to be made later on a solar farm at a Sussex village - once the focus of a battle over fracking. Balcombe wants to create a community-owned solar farm which would match the demands of homes there.
The go-ahead has been given today for a 90,000 panel solar farm, planned on land owned by Dorset South MP Richard Drax at Mapperton. East Dorset District Council's planning committee deferred making a decision on 23 June because they said they needed to make a site visit. Seven councillors voted for the project and three against. There has been strong opposition from campaigners. The energy company is Wiltshire-based Good Energy. More shortly.
The number of solar farms in the South East is set to soar.
One of the latest could cover 66 acres and is planned for Great Tong Farm, South of Maidstone. Campaigners say it will ruin the local environment. But those in favour - feel we've got to produce more renewable energy.
The number of solar farms are increasing. In the south east region - so far, 44 have been built; 45 are under construction or awaiting construction - and planning applications are in for a further 37.
The developers of the site at Tong Farm told us :
"We believe that solar energy supports rural communities and we consult at every stage of the process."
Sarah Saunders spoke to Shellina Prendergast from Protect Our Weald; Hilary Newport from the Campaign for Rural England and Paul Barwell form the Solar Trade Association.
As planning applications for new solar farms soar, proposals for one of the country's largest solar developments is meeting stiff local opposition.
The solar farm would cover 66 acres at Great Tong Farm near Maidstone.
At a public meeting tonight, residents and industry representatives will air their views.
ITV Meridian spoke to local resident Shellina Prendergast.
Farmers in the South East seeking new sources of revenue are increasingly turning to solar power. ITV News Meridian reporter Nashreen Issa reports on the rise of solar farms.
Ambulances in the south have become the first in the country to use solar panels.
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has installed the energy producing cells on 36 of its Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs).
They supply power to the secondary battery system that powers all emergency equipment onboard.
Green Team Co-ordinator Brian Miller said: "We are taking the initiative to reduce fuel consumption, fuel and battery replacement costs, the Trust’s carbon footprint and the need for RRVs to return to base and traditional shoreline systems to recharge vehicle batteries."