Responses to the 2nd phase consultation

It’s been a couple of weeks since the 2nd phase consultation closed on the auspicious date Friday 13th July 2018. There was a huge amount of activity in the run up to this date as the various groups, organisations and official bodies all got their formal responses ready. At the same time the public were busy responding in their own voices. Here’s a round up of some of the responses we’ve seen.

Graveney Rural Environment Action Team

We’ll lead with a link to our own response. A detailed 25 page report highlighting many of the local concerns. View an online copy here

Faversham Society

As ever, the Faversham Society as done an excellent job of presenting an articulate and clear response to the proposal.

When the news of this proposal first came out back in November 2017, the Society was clear that it supported the development of renewable energy, but it had specific and serious concerns about the scale of the proposal and its likely impact on wildlife, public amenity and food production. In this first response the Society was keen to engage in a constructive dialogue with the developers before coming to a considered view on the scheme in the Phase Two Consultation.

The Society has now scrutinised the proposals including meeting directly with the developers. During this engagement the Society has become ever more concerned. It now has

grave concerns about the negative environmental and amenity impact of the solar power station being proposed at Cleve Hill and across the surrounding marshes. There are alternative brownfield sites available, and distributed generation is both possible and more desirable.

Please do read their informative blog post about their concerns which includes a link to the PDF of their full response.

Kent Wildlife Trust

The developers have been quick to state how organisations like RSPB, Natural England and Kent Wildlife Trust are part of their ‘Habitat Management Steering Group’ (see the news section on their website). As ever, the PR juice is in full flow here – it sounds like the organisations that help nature and wildlife are on board with the plans. The reality is that this should be called a Habitat Damage Limitation Group.

Given Kent Wildlife’s close involvement in this group, their response to the proposal is important.

“With the information we have at present, our concerns fall into two main categories: loss of ‘functionally linked’ habitat, and direct impacts on the habitats within the development site.”

This is outlined in more detail in their response but they go on to say:

“In addition, we are also concerned about the potential loss of connectivity, and loss of opportunity for habitat and landscape enhancement that this site provides. Such a significant area surrounded by designated habitat provides one of the best opportunities we know to restore lost coastal habitats in North Kent.”

Read the full details of the Kent Wildlife Trust’s concerns here.

Helen Whately MP

Our local MP remains “extremely concerned” about what is being proposed. She attended our community event and was able to talk to many of the local people who also attended. She says she is disappointed that the proposals have not managed to mitigate many of the concerns raised.

“The main concerns I have set out to Cleve Hill are as follows:

  • Size and location of the site – Despite paring back the size of the site, the sheer scale of the proposal remains huge. The marshes are a special, tranquil and beautiful landscape that should be protected for future generations to enjoy.

  • Views from the Saxon Shore Way – The panels are expected to reach 4m in some places, and will stretch to right up to the edge of the Saxon Shore Way. This will inevitably impact on the enjoyment of this unique landscape.

  • Ineffective screening – There are plans to screen the panels with vegetation, but this will take at least ten years to take hold , and even then I’m concerned that the properties and footpaths nearest to the site will still be impacted negatively.

  • Flora and fauna – The marshes are home to a huge variety of birds, mammals and other creatures, who rely on the salt marshes and mudflats environment.  The nature of the panels, oriented east-west and densely packed, will let little sunlight to the earth below and I am unclear as to what wildlife this will effectively support.

  • Flood defences – My understanding is that Cleve Hill are seeking to take control of the flood defences so that they can maintain them to reduce flood risk onto the site. I am concerned that this conflicts with the potential long term use of the site as an area of compensatory habitat for the delivery of the Medway Estuary and Swale Strategy.”

Like everyone, Helen is supportive of alternative energy sources, but believes some balance has to be struck between the big picture benefits and the immediate local impact. She doesn’t feel a balance is achieved here:

“The local impact is simply unacceptable”

Helen says she will continue to lobby against this proposal to protect this special part of Kent. Her website has full details of her response.

Campaign for the Protection of Rural England

An early and strong opposer to the proposed scheme, the CPRE has taken the opportunity to clarify its strong opposition to the project.

“Our response totals almost 1,700 words, but our primary concerns lie in the following areas (more may be added after scrutiny of the Development Consent Order application):

  • Damage to landscape including tranquillity and dark skies
  • Inadequate assessment of flood risk and potential conflict with the Environment Agency’s ‘managed retreat’ strategy
  • Impacts on soil microclimate and hydrology
  • Ecological impacts
  • Damage to heritage assets caused by construction traffic
  • Loss of agricultural land
  • Threats to animal welfare”
  • CPRE Kent recognises the challenges of climate change and the government’s commitment to meeting carbon emission targets but does not consider the renewable-energy benefits of the scheme proposed by developers Hive Energy and Wirsol – which has already grown from an initial 890 acres to 1,000 – outweigh the damage it would cause the North Kent Marshes.
  • They also question the sustainability of reliance on lithium-ion technology, with its own remote but concerning ecological impacts.
  • “In short, the solar farm proposal is on a wholly unacceptable scale and in entirely the wrong location; it carries a disturbing catalogue of harmful impacts and it is to be hoped that the plans are ultimately stopped in their tracks.”
  • Read their full detailed concerns via their website.
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    4 thoughts on “Responses to the 2nd phase consultation

    Add yours

    1. Excellent in-depth synopsis of current objections from some influential Kent people and organisations: thanks for posting this, Michael.

      Like

    2. Thanks for posting Michael. It is reassuring that these considered responses draw the same conclusions re the inappropriateness of the Graveney site

      Like

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