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CPRE Sussex Director’s column written for West Sussex Gazette, Feb 2024

21st February 2024

February feels like a funny time to be talking about the power of sunshine. But here in Sussex we’ve got an amazing resource – lots of sun, that we can help to use to power our homes and keep bills down. With climate change already making its mark, there is an immediate need to embrace new energy sources and rapidly cut carbon pollution while still protecting the precious landscapes on our doorstep.


At CPRE Sussex we are working to promote renewable energy through a Rooftop Renewables Revolution. This can be achieved by using existing buildings and ensuring new builds include solar panels as a matter of course.

During both a climate and a cost-of-living crisis, it is imperative future homeowners and tenants are helped to keep their entirely avoidable carbon pollution and bills down.

The Government is currently running a consultation on standard for new build homes. In our response, we argue new homes standards should encourage highly insulated building fabric, electrification of heating via heat pumps and use of onsite renewables.

We are surprised the Government is considering two options – one that requires solar panels, and one which does not. The option without solar panels means higher energy bills, higher costs if people want to install panels later, and more carbon pollution.

As so many people have said to us, requiring new buildings to install solar panels at the time of construction “is a no-brainer”. We have urged the Government to pick that option.

Making new housing stock more sustainable is an important step in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. But we also need to make better use of the buildings we already have.

While our colleagues pressure Government and Opposition parties nationally, CPRE in Hampshire and Sussex are looking at what can be done at the local level – in council chambers and on the ground.

We have teamed up with experts at the University of Southampton to demonstrate the potential for rooftop solar on existing buildings and car parks across the two counties.

We want to show councillors, planners and other policymakers how much scope there is for rooftop solar and encourage them to make policy changes which minimise the need for other land use.

The unique partnership with the University of Southampton intends to make use of cutting-edge techniques to identify and map potential rooftop sites that could host solar panels.

This will give an estimate of the total potential capacity across each county, as well as a starting point for specific promising sites.

The benefit of the approach is that results can be broken down by different types of building in each planning context.

For example, how does the potential for solar rooftop coverage from large commercial and industrial buildings in each town compare with proposed, and existing, solar farms?

Read more about our solar mapping project at

Find out how to get involved in Rooftop Renewables Revolution at