Cleve Hill Solar Park: making money at the expense of the environment in the name of the environment

The landscape of the North Kent Marshes is set to be changed drastically

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

Cleve Hill solar farm: it might not be too late to have your say

The special landscape of Graveney Marshes would be destroyed if the Cleve Hill solar park was approved (pic Vicky Ellis)

If you want to have your say on plans for a 1,000-acre solar farm near Faversham but didn’t make the submissions deadline you might still have a chance.
The deadline to register with the Planning Inspectorate as an Interested Party in relation to the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Park passed on Monday, January 28, but the inspectorate has just announced that the “Examining Authority has used its discretion to accept Additional Submissions from the Applicant and a Late Relevant Representation. These have been published and added to the Examination Library”.
There is no guarantee, but it is difficult to see how any other late representations could justifiably be refused given the other late acceptances.
The developer’s application for a Development Consent Order, made on November 16, was accepted by the inspectorate, meaning an inquiry into the scheme will now be held. CPRE Kent is among 867 groups and individuals to have registered as Interested Parties for this process.
As for the next stage, the inspectorate website says: “Details of the Preliminary Meeting will be announced here shortly.
“The Examining Authority will carry out an Initial Assessment of Principal Issues derived from its reading of the application and the Relevant Representations received and set a date for the Preliminary Meeting.”

  • Should you wish to add your voice to the inquiry, visit the Planning Inspectorate website here
  • For more on the Cleve Hill story, see here, here and here

Wednesday, March 27, 2019