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Home   Sheerness   News   Article

Minster woman's anger over solar farm go-ahead at South Lees Farm

25 January 2014
by Emma Grove

Swale council’s planning committee agreed at a meeting last Thursday that Solarcentury can build its 42,240-panel development at South Lees Farm in Minster.

Concerns were raised about where it will go within the site off Lower Road, as this has been moved since the plan was first submitted, but officer Jim Wilson said this discrepancy has no impact.

Christine Naden's house pictured from where the first row of solar panels will be installed

Christine Naden's house pictured from where the first row of solar panels will be installed

The development was given the thumbs-up with a vote of eight in favour and six against.

But Christine Naden, who lives at nearby Poors Farm, is furious about the decision and blasted the whole planning process.

She said: “I feel it has not been handled properly and I feel mistakes have been made. I don’t see how a decision like that can be made when only half of the committee came to the site visit and only one of them came to look at it from our side.

“I don’t know where we go from here but it’s quite possible we’ll be taking it further.”

Christine Naden is disappointed at Swale council's decision

Christine Naden is disappointed at Swale council's decision

The 66-year-old, who lives with her husband Colin, is worried about the impact the farm will have on her and her family’s lives and is also concerned it will devalue their house.

She also said the fact it was such a close vote shows what a divisive subject it is.

“At the moment I can look across the fields and see the bridge, but when this is built I won’t be able to,” she added.

“I don’t think they realise what they have agreed – it’s in such a prominent position.”

Solarcentury’s director of development, Guy Beesley, said: “We are delighted to have been granted planning permission for this site, which received support from the majority of statutory consultees.

“The site meets the criteria we have signed up to issued by the Solar Trade Association on how to develop solar farms responsibly with minimum impact on the local community and maximum benefit to wildlife.

“The site will be built in a matter of months, meaning disruption will be kept to a minimum.

“It will create enough electricity to power the equivalent of 3,200 homes and will save over 5,500 tonnes of CO2 per annum.”

Speaking in favour of the development at last week’s planning meeting, Sheerness East councillor Mark Ellen said: “I understand it’s a contentious thing.

“We all have different ideas about energy conserves, some don’t like it and the plan can be seen as the same thing, panels and other materials etc. “However, I see this as a good initiative.

“This could actually power 3,000 houses and we’ve got to think of the future. Our grandchildren are the future.

“I think there will be no harm done to the environment so I’m in support of this particular application.”

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