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Concerns over plan for 84,000 panel solar farm in Cliffe

Solar panels in a rural field
Solar panels in a rural field

A huge solar farm with the potential to power thousands of homes could be built in Cliffe.

Plans for a 98-acre site called Cliffe Terminal Solar Farm, next to Salt Lane, are in their early stages, but about 84,000 solar panels would be installed in three fields near Cliffe Creek and the Cliffe Pools RSPB Nature Reserve.

Developer Bluefield Energy is handling the application on behalf of Brett Group, a construction and building materials firm which owns the land and has a plant close by.

The developer’s managing director, Bob Ayres, said if the farm is built it could produce about 15 million kilowatt hours of power a year, enough for more than 3,000 homes.

He said: “It’s a fantastic site. It’s brownfield land and it’s not significantly overlooked by any residential properties.”

The solar panels on the site would face south, be no more than three metres high and screened by trees and hedges. The panels would be in the area for 25 years before being removed.

The developer has asked Medway Council whether it is necessary to carry out an environmental impact assessment on the site. A decision is due to be made this month.

If an environmental assessment is needed, a full planning application is expected to be submitted in a year’s time. If the council determines such a study is not necessary then this will be brought forward to early in the new year.

Cliffe and Cliffe Woods Parish Council chairman Chris Fribbins said he has reservations about the plan.

He said: “The answer must be yes [to an environmental assessment]. That location is totally unsuitable; it’s right on top of Cliffe Pools.”

RSPB spokesman Rolf Williams said: “We’ll reserve judgement until we see the full details of what they’re proposing.”

To give your views, visit http://planning.medway.gov.uk/dcwebpages/acolnetcgi.exe and search for planning application MC/13/1740.

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