Perhaps to nobody’s great surprise, the site set to host the country’s largest solar farm – formerly known as Cleve Hill – has been sold.
It was in May last year that the Planning Inspectorate announced Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, had granted a Development Consent Order for Cleve Hill Solar Park.
It was desperately disappointing news for CPRE Kent, which 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.
Now comes the news that Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy have sold the scheme to London-based operation Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, which promptly renamed the whole thing Project Fortress.
Quinbrook, which is reported to manage assets worth more than £1.5 billion, says it aims to start construction at Cleve Hill – sorry, Project Fortress – in the first half of next year, with it becoming operational in 2023.
Energy is to be stored in a giant lithium battery system, which has sparked serious safety concerns for the nearby town of Faversham and village of Graveney.
A Swale Borough Council spokesman said: “When the scheme was approved by the Secretary of State, several requirements were placed on the permission for the developer to undertake before the scheme can start on site. These have been ongoing and more submissions are required.”
Quinbrook is reported to already operate two large solar farms in Nevada, United States, and “pride itself on being an investment group solely involved in renewable energy schemes”.
It will be both owner and operator of the north Kent scheme. A spokesman said: “We believe Project Fortress is a landmark transaction on many fronts and represents a new frontier in UK solar teamed with large-scale battery storage.
“We have been immersed in large-scale solar and storage in the US for many years and we can apply our significant experience in project design and equipment selection to ensure Fortress becomes the new benchmark for renewables that support the UK grid rather than challenge it.”
- For more on, erm, Project Fortress, see here
Monday, October 25, 2021