Work starts on Oving solar farm

Work starting on Woodhorn Group's solar farm in Oving''Contributed
Work starting on Woodhorn Group's solar farm in Oving''Contributed

For a Chichester business the future’s bright – the future is powered by the sun.

Recycling firm the Woodhorn Group, situated in Oving, has just started work on its solar farm.

When completed the farm will produce five megawatts of electricity – enough to power 1,400 homes via the National Grid plus the business’ workshops and grain stores.

The business recycles around 40,000 tons of green and food waste which would otherwise go to landfill, under the Reclaim West Sussex Partnership made up of West Sussex County Council, Chichester and Arun district councils and Viridor Waste Management.

Waste also comes from horticultural nurseries in the area as well as landscape gardeners and businesses.

Planning permission was granted by Chichester District Council last April but the project was put on hold after the government slashed solar subsidies.

The scheme means those with solar panels can generate electricity and receive payment for the energy they produce and energy produced which is fed back into the national grid.

The government reduced the tariff from 43.3p per kilowatt to 21p.

Managing director John Pitts said: “We have found a way forward without using the government’s Feed in Tariff Scheme and are delighted to finally get this project under way.”

The solar farm will produce five megawatts of electricity from the sun which is enough to power around 1,400 homes via the national grid, plus the Woodhorn Group’s offices, workshops and grain stores.

Mr Pitts said: “Being organic farmers I am delighted we will be producing a source of green power which fits in entirely with our overall ethos,”

“This will be another significant step in the right direction.

“I am pretty sure we will also be the first recycling business in the UK to be using solar power.

“I hope that is something everyone in West Sussex can be proud of.”

An organic tenanted dairy farming business based in Oving, now run by John Pitts, has been managed by the Pitts family since 1882.

Mr Pitts diversified into composting and recycling in 1998.

The expected typical annual return for households will fall from £1,100 to £500.

This means anyone considering signing up to panels with a promise to beat the deadline should ask for a cast-iron guarantee it will be met and their money back if it is missed.

Despite the cut in subsidy, Chichester businessman Matthew Pascoe, who is director of South Coast Renewables, said it now cost much less to install solar panels compared to a year ago.

It was a sound investment which also helped the area’s businesses and employment.