Hastings Observer Column - Friday 19 July

Leaving the environment in a better state than we found it is a priority for everyone.

It is something I am extremely committed to and so is the Government. 

Indeed, as a former Environment Secretary who negotiated the first ever global agreement on climate change I know how important it is to protect the beautiful environment we have in Hastings.

I’ve recently played my role in pushing the government to commit to eliminating our net carbon emissions.

Hastings is not short of environmental wonders and people here should know that by having an MP working in the heart of government I will always be in a place to protect your interests.

I was delighted to recently meet with Energise Sussex Coast (ESC), a Community Benefit Society, who are encouraging local schools and businesses to save cash on their bills and help the planet by installing renewable energy sources on their buildings.

I have partnered up with ESC to promote this excellent campaign and save our local environment before it is too late!

I visited Ore Valley Campus of East Sussex College to inspect their new solar installation of 1,000 panels. And I urge other schools and businesses to follow Ore Valley’s fantastic example. It has already paid dividends, not only in terms of carbon reduction but also has provided much cheaper energy to the college, saving them £7000 a year.

If schools and businesses don’t follow Ore Valley’s model of excellence, Hastings could end up with Peter Chowney covering our beloved country park and green spaces with industrial scale solar farms. We need a viable alternative to these severe plans, and 1500 constituents have signed my petition to “Say NO to Solar Panels in Hastings Country Park”.

The solar panel initiative by ESC does not detract from the beautiful appearance of our town, unlike HBC’s proposal to ruin Hastings Country Park. ESC’s initiative is the way forward for Hastings and could make Hastings a leader in renewable energy across the country.

ESC is working with University of Brighton Academies Trust to install solar on St Leonards Academy, Hastings Academy, Dudley Infants, Baird Academy, Churchwood - with more to be announced soon! St Leonards Academy, which I visited last Friday as well, could become the biggest solar energy school in the whole of the UK, which is a brilliant achievement and sets the right message for our young people.

Now is the time to follow these schools’ examples, so make sure you contact Energise Sussex Coast and don’t miss out on this initiative. Together we can make a real difference.

Amber Nigel Sinden