Yet another respected organisation has weighed in against SeaChange’s proposals for North Queensway. Energise Sussex Coast is a Hastings-based community energy co-operative, working to ‘tackle the climate crisis and energy injustice through community owned renewable power and energy saving schemes’. In other words, they know a lot about renewable energy.

Energise took a look at SeaChange’s ‘sustainability statement’. To save you reading it all, the statement can be summarised as: no renewables are suitable, the greenest option is to heat the proposed units with gas boilers.

Needless to say, Energise was less than impressed with this conclusion and has put in a strong objection to the plans. In the statement, SeaChange’s consultants run through one type of renewable energy after another, finding a reason to dismiss every one before concluding (p17) that since they don’t know to what uses the future tenants will put the buildings, they can’t build in any renewables.

“gas boiler” by spnteach is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It would be reasonable to think that whatever the tenants are doing, they are likely to need heating and lighting, but apparently that’s not something that can be taken as a given. Hence it’s better to do nothing, and hope that the tenants take it upon themselves to do the right thing in terms of renewables.

Energise doesn’t pull any punches in its objection. The sustainability statement, it says:

makes a number of misleading and inaccurate claims. The most glaring of these is the claim that gas heating is sustainable.

The statement says (p17) that using gas boilers ensures that the scheme is optimally efficient, whilst minimising the emission of pollutants including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Energise is withering in its response:

A statement like this at COP26* would make Hastings council (and the UK’s zero-carbon commitment) a global laughing stock.

*COP26 is the UN’s annual climate change conference, to be hosted this year by the UK.

According to Energise, the statement also wildly overestimates the cost of solar panels, and claims wrongly that heat pumps are no more carbon efficient than gas boilers. And finally, in a stinging section towards the end, Energise points out that SeaChange has history in this area. Back in the early 2000s, SeaSpace (the precursor of SeaChange, with many of the same board members and under the same director, John Shaw) developed a site just to the south of North Queensway.

That site was ‘Enviro 21’, a supposed state of the art eco-technology centre, described by Rother District council here:

From innovation and enterprise page, Rother District Council website

Energise points out that the roofs of the units were designed in such a way that they could not support solar panels. It was supposed to include a wind turbine (planning permission was granted but it was never built), and the energy efficiency rating ended up as D. The park failed to generate the 500 green jobs that SeaSpace had promised, and ultimately went into receivership. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement for SeaChange’s current ‘green’ project.

At the end, Energise reaches the only conclusion possible:

Other environmental objections notwithstanding, this application should be rejected on the basis of the claims made in the sustainability statement alone. If planning was granted and the statement made public, this would risk significant embarrassment to the council and its aim of becoming a pioneering low carbon town.

Is this the kind of development which should be granted planning permission by a council which has declared a climate emergency? We think not – and we hope the planning committee agrees.

If you haven’t objected to the planning application yet, it’s not too late. Go to this post to find out how.