Solar farms will ensure a sustainable future supply

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There will be those who sigh in despair at our front page today, and will mutter about the despoiling of the countryside under acres of panelling.

There will be those who think that the whole concept of renewable energy is nothing but a con, hatched up by those seeking tax breaks and subsidies.

There will also be others who are delighted by the news, who think that we should put our region’s sunny and warm climate to good use and that solar panelling is to be welcomed – particularly if it sees off the perceived threat of fracking and the fears of pollution and subsidence that that process may bring with it.

As ever, the truth is somewhere in between – but as ever, it will be difficult to make either side back down from their position.

It’s easy to have sympathy with those who oppose solar farms, though. We have some beautiful countryside in this area, much of which is quintessentially English, with rolling hills, fields and woodland areas. Yes, it is a shame to lose that.

However, scientists are now almost unanimous that climate change is caused by burning carbon for fuel. And even a cursory look at the weather of the past week, let alone the past five years, will suggest that the quicker we wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the better.

So regardless of one’s opinion of the aesthetics of solar panels, they are helping to tackle a problem that cannot be ignored, and for that reason we are glad to see applications for solar farms being approved.

Obviously there must be limits – not all countryside can be sacrificed – and there would be justified anger if nationally-recognised beauty spots such as the South Downs National Park were to be approved as a site.

But we cannot accept that there should be a blanket refusal for such farms – and indeed we should be proud that this area can be said to be playing its part in helping to ensure several different methods of electricity generation can flourish.

Solar farms will never be the full solution to our electricity needs, but they are a step in the right direction.