Giant solar farm's threat to glorious Kent coastline: Site the size of 500 football pitches will cost £400m and power 110,000 homes

Mail Online | 11/10/2017 | Colin Fernandez Environment Correspondent
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Plans for Britain’s biggest solar farm – the size of 500 football pitches – have been unveiled.

The £400million project will convert an area of low grade farmland into a generator capable of powering 110,000 homes.

Acres - Scheme - Birmingham - Airport - Area

At 890 acres, the scheme is bigger than Birmingham Airport and more than twice the area of London’s Hyde Park.

Cleve Hill Solar Park, at Graveney, near Whitstable in Kent, will be built without public subsidy. Capable of generating 350 megawatts at peak capacity, it will be five times bigger than the UK’s current biggest – the 70mw plant at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Scheme - Online - Kind - Nationally - Significant

The scheme, which is intended to come online in 2020, is so big that it is the first of its kind to be classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, meaning it will need to be signed off by Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

But a lengthy public consultation will have to be carried out, with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) set to raise objections. The site is close to several Thames estuary nature reserves. Many rare birds visit the area, including marsh harriers, lapwing, reed warblers, grey plovers and black-tailed godwit.

Hilary - Newport - Director - CPRE - Kent

Hilary Newport, director of CPRE Kent, said development there would harm the landscape and threaten wildlife.

The solar farm is expected to bring in more than £1million a year in business rates for Swale Council and Kent County Council.

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