Solar panel farm will be largest in county
The largest solar panel farm in Kent is being proposed on land next to an area of outstanding natural beauty near Chilham.
If approved, almost 230 acres of countryside would be carpeted with the panels to generate 37 megawatts of electricity, powering more than 10,000 homes.
The scheme is being promoted at North Court Fruit Farm, Old Wives Lees, but already, Ashford Borough Council has decided a detailed environmental impact assessment is needed. It follows a preliminary screening application by Green Switch Solutions, the company behind the proposal.
In his report on the application, ABC development control manager Martin Vink says: “It is considered to be very large in the context of its rural location,
‘This is a vast site and a huge loss of farmland’
which is an area characterised by open farmland, expansive views and scattered farms and homes.
“The site will be visible not only from adjacent houses, roads and public footpaths, but also from the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the opposite side of the Stour Valley.”
Liz Pollard, assistant inspector of historic buildings and areas for English Heritage, says the solar panel farm could have an impact on the conservation areas at Buckwell Farm and Tile Lodge Farm. Jamies Weir, of Protect Kent, said: “This is a vast site and a huge loss of farmland.
“It will have a terrible impact in such a sensitive location overlooked by the North Downs and we will certainly be objecting to any planning application.”
Chilham Parish Council chairman Roy Lincoln does not want to comment until a formal planning application has been submitted.
Another screening application for a 50-acre field at Woodlands Farm off Calcott Hill in Sturry, pictured above, has been submitted to Canterbury City Council, which says it does not need an environmental impact study.
The company, Lightsource Renewable Energy, says it will generate up to 10mgw of electricity, enough to power 3,000 homes.
Site of proposed solar farm near Chilham