CPRE Kent is hugely disappointed by the government’s decision to back the building of the UK’s largest solar farm on Graveney Marshes, near Faversham.
The Planning Inspectorate announced yesterday (Thursday, May 28) that Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, had granted a Development Consent Order for Cleve Hill Solar Park.
CPRE Kent believes the industrialisation of almost 1,000 acres of the North Kent Marshes – an area of international importance to wildlife – is wholly unacceptable and further evidence of the government’s chaotic approach towards sustainable energy generation.
A coherent policy would entail solar energy becoming an integral part of housing development. Instead, the government is offering little or no incentive for that to happen, a particular irony given the thousands of new houses being targeted for the surrounding area.
This development, if it proceeds, will destroy a precious and fragile landscape, wreck natural habitat for a wide range of wildlife and inflict substantial disturbance and disruption on local people, through construction and subsequent maintenance of the site, for decades to come.
CPRE Kent is a strong supporter of renewable energy, but both the vast scale and sensitive location of this scheme mean its development should never have been accepted.
Further, there are serious safety implications for the nearby town of Faversham and village of Graveney. With energy due to be stored in a giant battery system, the threat of a potentially devastating fire should not be understated.
This is not scaremongering, as fires at battery installations across the world have proved. Of course, developers are not resourcing the local authorities and services that will be tasked with tackling the consequences of any such incidents.
Despite the promotion of Cleve Hill Solar Park as a green energy project, it is difficult to view it as anything other than a developers’ cash cow. Anything that destroys countryside and harms wildlife on this vast scale is not green energy.
Cleve Hill is all about making money at the expense of the environment in the name of the environment.
CPRE Kent will be considering its options in response to the Secretary of State’s decision.
- You can read the Examining Authority’s report and the Secretary of State’s decision letter here
Friday, May 29, 2020