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Plans for Britain's biggest solar farm in Whitstable go on display

By KentOnline reporter

The first of four events showing plans to bring Britain's biggest solar farm to the edge of Whitstable takes place today.

Developers behind the £400million Cleve Hill Solar Park project have earmarked 890 acres of farmland near Graveney for the energy-saving producing panels.

From 5pm, residents will be able to view the landmark plans at a consultation event in Sheppey Evangelical Church.

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An 890-acre solar farm has been proposed near Graveney. Picture: Thinkstock
An 890-acre solar farm has been proposed near Graveney. Picture: Thinkstock

Hugh Brennan, of solar industry specialists Hive Energy, which is a partner in the project with Wirsol Energy, said: “The Cleve Hill Solar Park is a pioneering scheme, including the potential for new technologies like battery storage.

“Our ambition is to deliver the first non-subsidised renewables project of this scale, delivering low-cost, clean, homegrown energy to power UK households.

“We are still at the very early stages of developing our proposals, which is why we want to start talking now with local communities to understand their views and listen to their ideas.

“I would encourage anyone with an interest in our plans to come along to meet us at one of our upcoming consultation events to find out more.”

Developers behind the project say it will generate enough electricity to power 110,000 homes, equivalent to the number in Swale and Canterbury combined.

"At about 890 acres, it's about the size of Central Park in New York" - Hilary Newport

If built, the panels will sit on low-grade farmland between Faversham and Whitstable, but will require final sign off the from the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, after the project was earmarked as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

But concerns have already been raised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Director the Kent branch, Hilary Newport said: “Our initial concerns focus on the sheer scale of this proposal.

"At about 890 acres, it's about the size of Central Park in New York.

"We are of course supportive of clean renewable energy, but such schemes should be incorporated into the built environment - including every new home having solar panels - rather than taking up so much agricultural land in such a sensitive landscape and in an area that is so important for people and wildlife.”

Today marks the first of four public events putting plans on display, before a second phase of consultation is expected to start early next year.

The first phase of community consultation events are being held at:

  • Sheppey Evangelical Church, Warden Bay Road, Leysdown, today from 5pm to 8pm.
  • Faversham Assembly Rooms, in Preston Street, tomorrow from 11.30am to 7.30pm.
  • Graveney village hall on Thursday, December 7, from 1.30pm to 8pm.
  • Seasalter Christian Centre on Friday, December 8, from 12.30pm to 4.30pm.

For more information about the proposals and details of the consultation events go to www.clevehillsolar.com

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