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Cleve Hill: Faversham and Mid-Kent MP Helen Whately calls urgent meeting at Graveney to discuss solar farm plans


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A Kent MP has met with environment and wildlife experts to discuss controversial plans for a solar farm on Graveney Marshes.

If given the go-ahead, the £450 million Cleve Hill Solar Park would stretch from the banks of Faversham Creek to Seasalter Road, bordered to the north by the Saxon Shore Way footpath along the Swale.

Today, Faversham and Mid-Kent MP Helen Whately called an urgent meeting with representatives from the Environment Agency, Natural England, the RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust - each of which will have a say on the planning application before the final decision is made by the Secretary of State - to view the proposed site and hear from campaigners from the Graveney Rural Environment Action Team.

Ms Whately met her guests at the top at All Saints Church in Graveney, which provides a birds-eye view of the marshes.

She said: "We're here to talk about the impact the development might have not only on the visual environment, but also on the wildlife and some of the rare birds that there are here.

"When you're here, you can get a really good idea of the scale of this huge solar power plant, and the acres and acres that would be covered by those black panels and the devastating impact that it would, I think, have here."

Plans for the solar farm are currently with the government's Planning Inspectorate.

But Ms Whately encourages anyone interested to have their say.

Campaigners at today's meeting (7218129)
Campaigners at today's meeting (7218129)

"It's really important that residents, and people who like coming here have their say," she said.

"As the planning process goes on, it will be really important that people write in and say they're concerned, and say the reasons why they're concerned, and how having the power plant here might affect them, and the things they're worried about.

"Whether it's somebody who likes coming here to walk and appreciates the amazing views and the land here, or whether you're concerned about the bird life, people having a say will really, really make a difference.

MP Helen Whately met with campaigners and interested parties in Graveney today (7218089)
MP Helen Whately met with campaigners and interested parties in Graveney today (7218089)

"Spending some time here is really important - you shouldn't just think about it looking at the plans on a piece of paper. You have to get out here. It's a very open landscape - quite bleak, and beautiful in its own way"

Subject to approval by the Planning Inspectorate, Cleve Hill solar farm is also expected to provide enough green electricity to power around 91,000 homes.

Developer Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd has already carried out a lengthy public consultation over the development.

And after considering responses to the consultations, it reduced the number of solar panels planned for the site.

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