This is undoubtedly the most difficult information we have to share during our 2½ year campaign. Regrettably, we will not be pursuing a Judicial Review and therefore the Solar Power Station development on Graveney Marshes will happen.

On the 28th May, a consent order was granted to Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. CPRE and Swale Borough Council’s barristers / planning lawyers have since assessed all options within the legal constraints of the judicial review process. They found no grounds upon which the decision can be legally challenged. Therefore, the Secretary of State’s decision stands unchallenged by law.

We fought an admirable fight, based on fact and a plethora of expert opinion, but could not sway the judgement of the National Inspectorate. Their professional opinion combined with the lack of planning laws proved no hindrance in reaching their decision. In the end it seems that, in the Inspector’s opinion, the advantages of this project outweigh the harm – it is seen as for the benefit of the greater good.

We see a unique green landscape with an abundance of biodiversity, flora and fauna, the developers see the opportunity to build the largest Solar Power Station in the UK and the government see a private developer ticking a box to contribute to reducing UK emissions by 80% by 2050.

This is a sad day for Kent as this vast Solar Power Station will further eat into the available green space. The Times reported this week* on a UK study that has revealed that an area of countryside and green space almost the size of Cornwall has been lost to development over the past 25 years.

BUT the GREAT campaign is not over!
The developers still have a mountain to climb. Swale Borough Council have an ongoing responsibility for monitoring, discharge and enforcement of the Development Consent Order (DCO) and twenty plus complex requirements of the DCO must be agreed before any works can start.

The council is required to consult the Health and Safety Executive, Kent Fire & Rescue, Natural England and Kent County Council and have invited GREAT to be closely involved in this process which will include; input into the traffic management plan, battery safety, landscape and biodiversity management, fencing and means of enclosure, to name just a few.

We will be seeking comments and views from you on all of these issues in the coming months. We will also be refreshing our publicity and promotional materials.

GREAT would like to thank their supporters for their ongoing commitment and encouragement.

REFERENCES
* The Times – Thursday July 9 2020 ‘Green space the size of Cornwall lost since 1990.’ Researchers calculated overall changes in land use and found there had been a net reduction of 7,689km2 – 1.9 million acres – in the amount of grassland and playing fields in the last 25 years.

Swale Borough Council announcement 10 July 2020
Council Obtains Legal Advice for Judicial Review