Solar energy is a free gift to us from the sun.
By using it, we can leave fossil fuels in the ground, avoid more air pollution and reduce climate change. Why bother, I hear you ask?
Well, I think we have to make an energy choice: we can go on destroying this planet, our only home, or leave it a better place for the future.
Solar energy has already been captured in Fareham. Newlands Solar Farm, on Newgate Lane, has been delivering electricity for the equivalent of about 5,200 homes since spring 2014.
Solar panels are appearing on more buildings. At Fareham Reach Business Park, on the A32, 90 panels have been fitted on the roof of one building.
A planning application is in for solar panels on a large building in Segensworth West.
New solar panels are appearing across the borough as more and more households see the opportunity to generate clean electricity and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
In 2014, Fareham Borough Council approved funding for solar panels on The Innovation Centre at Daedalus.
The Holly Hill Leisure Centre is under construction.
It has a massive south-facing roof, as anyone driving up Barnes Lane can see – an ideal surface for capturing solar energy and reducing the amount of gas required to heat the new swimming pools, fitness suite and dance studios.
Why not take the opportunity at this building to capture energy directly from the sun by incorporating solar panels and save an estimated £20,000 a year for gas?
Why work rigidly to building codes when greater energy savings can be made by using all the available sunlight?
The cost of solar panels has come down and the government’s feed-in tariff means solar energy is worth having.
Planning guidance from government includes: ‘all communities have a responsibility to help to increase the use and supply of green energy’.
In our view, solar energy is a gift that no council should ignore, and every new building that requires energy – including this leisure centre – should be assessed and designed for its potential to deliver a cleaner energy future.
If we care about the future of our community, there really is no energy choice.
To find out more about Gosport & Fareham Friends of the Earth and the work they do, please visit gffoe.co.uk.