Major Kent solar farm given green light

Marco Green
May 31, 2020

The developers hope to start generating electricity by 2023.

"This is a project that will generate up to 350MW of clean renewable electricity to power over 91,000 homes, reduce the UK's dependence on fossil fuels and lower Carbon dioxide emissions by 68,000 tonnes a year".

25 of those acres have been set aside to house the energy storage facility, otherwise known as the massive battery.

The project could include one of the world's largest energy storage systems.

The Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said the decision was taken after careful consideration - but said the project would be a world leader in solar and power storage.

"Our belief is that renewable energy generation is the most important thing that is going to happen to our planet over the next 50 years", said Giles Redpath, CEO of Hive Energy.

"We're not talking about a few fields - this would destroy an entire landscape".

Environmental campaigners Greenpeace, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, or RSPB, and The Campaign to Protect Rural England, or CPRE, all oppose the solar farm on the basis that it would industrialize a rural part of England and may harm local wildlife.

They say it's industrialising the countryside - and may harm an adjacent wildlife site.

"We're not against solar, if you have community level solar parks that's acceptable".

Friends of the Earth, another environmentalist group, embraced the project, saying it is situated on existing farmland unsuitable for most wildlife.

Their spokesperson Mike Childs said: "No-one wants to see damage to local habitats, but this is not some lovely, untouched meadow. Though the developer has listened to concerns and reduced the scale, it's still huge".

The news tops off a big week for subsidy-free solar in the United Kingdom, with NextEnergy Capital having secured £100m financing for two projects in South Wales and Worcestershire, and Statkraft having signed a deal with Warrington Borough Council to buy electricity from a solar-battery park in York.

Renewable energy is a key part in the U.K.'s strategy of developing a carbon-neutral economy by 2050 and eliminating coal use by 2025.

In 2015, the government controversially announced it would phase out subsidies from solar power, to a howl of protest from the industry.

The Solar Trade Associations chief executive Chris Hewett said: "Today the Government has shown that it recognises the vital contribution solar can make to Britain's energy mix".

"This is a major milestone on the road towards a United Kingdom powered by clean, affordable renewables", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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