Town That Shouted 'No!' to Fracking, Says 'Yes!' to Rooftop Solar

The small village of Balcombe has been at the epicenter of the battle against hydraulic fracture gas drilling in the UK since last year when fiery locals and activated environmentalists converged to stage dramatic rallies and blockades against attempts to drill exploratory wells in the region.

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But now—though the protests have died down and the drilling company Cuadrilla has at least temporarily puts its drilling hopes on hold—a new energy collaborative in the town is making a new bold statement about the energy system it wants to see.

The local group of villagers, under the name REPOWERBalcombe, has launched a community project to put rooftop solar panels on homes, barns, and other buildings in order to generate the “equivalent of 100% of Balcombe’s electricity demand through community owned, locally generated renewable energy.”

Their plan at the moment, according to the Guardian,  is to raise an initial “£300,000 in a community share offering for six solar arrays on roofs in and around the village that will supply 7.5% of the village’s power demand.”

In the longer term, however, the group hopes solar will provide all of the village’s total electricity demand.

Championing the effort, their allies at Friends of the Earth-UK, say the idea is exactly what’s needed in order to adequately fight the fossil fuel companies themselves and the energy and economic systems they now dominate.

“People don’t need to accept risky fracking on their doorsteps,” says FOE campaigner Brenda Pollack. “It’s great to see community energy initiatives like this that enable local residents to produce their own clean and safe power, and earn themselves an income too.”

And Tony Bosworth, writing on the FOE-UK blog, argues that this kind of proactive protest which says “Yes” to alternative energy is just one more way of saying “No” to fossil fuels. He writes: