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Helen Whately calls public meeting over Tong Farm solar farm proposals in Headcorn

By Alan Smith

There will be a public meeting on Friday (Oct 2) to discuss a bid to create a solar farm in Headcorn.

The meeting has been called by Faversham and Mid Kent MP Helen Whately after her constituents complained they had not been properly consulted.

Solar Securities is seeking planning permission to create 4.9MWp solar farm at Great Tong Farm, with 29,400 solar panels extending over an area of 11.5 hectares (28 acres).

Library picture

Library picture

The proposal has been condemned by near neighbours, by Protect Our Weald, and by the Weald of Kent Preservation Society.

The company said the farm would supply sufficient renewable energy to power 1,029 households in the Maidstone borough, and help reduce carbon gas emission and global warming.

The plans include the construction of two inverter stations, a substation, control room, general storage building, security fencing and security camera system.

The WOKPS planning secretary Peta Grant said the proposal was contrary to policies in the council’s existing Local Plan to protect the countryside and pointed out that the farm was designated as being in a Special Landscape Area (SLA).

Part of the Low Weald could be turned over to a solar farm

Part of the Low Weald could be turned over to a solar farm

In its application to Maidstone council, the company had argued that the SLA definition, which was left over from the old Local Plan of 2000, was irrelevant because “it is not proposed to take this designation forward as part of the emerging replacement Local Plan.”

However within the last two weeks, the borough council’s policy and resources committee has voted to create a new Low Weald Landscape of Local Value to replace the Low Weald SLA, which has given protesters new hope.

Helen Whately MP

Helen Whately MP

A spokesman for Protect Our Weald said: “It’s important that everyone concerned about this application attend the meeting to share their views.”

Richard Knox-Johnston, the vice-president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, will be among the speakers.

Headcorn parish council considered the application on Monday night, but decided to defer a decision until after it had considered the views expressed at the meeting on Friday.

Ulcombe Parish Council will hold a special meeting to consider the application on Thursday night (Oct 1) at 7.15pm in the village hall in Headcorn Road.

Mrs Whately's meeting starts at 6pm in Headcorn Village Hall, in Church Lane.

*Formal responses to the planning application should be made to Maidstone Borough Council by Monday, October 5, quoting planning application number 15/505974.

 

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