So­lar panel farm will be largest in county

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - County Show -

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

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