‘Considering the perilous state of nature’

The RSPB’s response to the National Inspectorate’s request for information relating to the Cleve Hill Solar Park proposal.

20 April 2020
Dear Sir or Madam

The RSPB has opposed this proposal from the outset, considering that the land subject to the proposal should not only be considered as an extension to the Swale Special Protection Area but that it also forms an integral part of a future Nature Recovery Network, in line with the governments own aspirations described in the 25 Year Environment Plan. Considering the perilous state of nature, if we are to deliver on the UK government’s goal to be ‘the first generation to leave that environment in a better state than we found it’ we will need to make good decisions about land use. Graveney Marshes is, because of its geography and ecology, a very important element of the wider natural landscape and one of the best opportunities in Kent to deliver landscape-scale biodiversity gains.

If the proposal for Compulsory Purchase of land by Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd does not meet the requirements of the 2008 Planning Act, then their ability to deliver a Landscape & Biodiversity Management Plan for the proposal will be undermined. Any development that occurs in an ecologically sensitive location (and the Greater Thames Estuary, of which Swale is a part, is one of the most important wildlife sites in the world) needs to avoid unnecessary impacts on wildlife and mitigate residual impacts. It is also within the spirit of good, modern development to deliver at least 10% biological net gain. If Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd can no longer demonstrate their ability to deliver an appropriate package of mitigation and enhancement for this proposal then it should be reconsidered or withdrawn.

Alan Johnson,
RSPB Area Manager, Kent & Essex