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Green light for Cleve Hill solar giant

Objectors’ concerns have centred on the impact of the project on local habitats and wildlife and on the size of Cleve Hill’s battery installation. There are fears that a fire could lead to "thermal runaway", causing a plume of toxic hydrogen fluoride gas to drift over the local urban areas in Faversham and Whitsable.

Swale Borough Council fails in legal challenge against Cleve Hill solar park, EIA from Arcus helps secure consent

A solar farm proposed by Hive Energy and international solar energy provider Wirsol has been given the green light by the High Court to go ahead, following the dismissal of legal challenge from Swale Borough Council.

When constructed, Cleve Hill Solar Park will include 880,000 solar panels and the world’s largest battery energy storage system (BESS). The 450m project on a 360ha farmland site near Faversham will generate 350MW of electricity and provide power for 91,000 homes.

The plant’s BESS alone will occupy 8ha, with its lithium ion batteries housed in 112 shipping containers. It will be five times the size of the current world record holder built by Tesla in Hornsdale, Australia and will also store electricity from the grid. A battery installation of this size has never been built before.

The solar park will share a substation with the UK’s second largest offshore wind farm, the London Array in the mouth of the Thames Estuary whose 175 turbines generate 630MW, 20km from the coast.

The project was first announced in 2017. A nationally significant infrastructure... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Swale Borough Council fails in legal challenge against Cleve Hill solar park, EIA from Arcus helps secure consent

A solar farm proposed by Hive Energy and international solar energy provider Wirsol has been given the green light by the High Court to go ahead, following the dismissal of legal challenge from Swale Borough Council. 

When constructed, Cleve Hill Solar Park will include 880,000 solar panels and the world’s largest battery energy storage system (BESS). The £450m project on a 360ha farmland site near Faversham will generate 350MW of electricity and provide power for 91,000 homes.

The plant’s BESS alone will occupy 8ha, with its lithium ion batteries housed in 112 shipping containers. It will be five times the size of the current world record holder built by Tesla in Hornsdale, Australia and will also store electricity from the grid. A battery installation of this size has never been built before. 

The solar park will share a substation with the UK’s second largest offshore wind farm, the London Array in the mouth of the Thames Estuary whose 175 turbines generate 630MW, 20km from the coast.

The project was first announced in 2017. A nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP), it was granted a development consent order (DCO) by the business secretary Alok Sharma earlier this year (EA 10-Jun-20). The scale of the solar park was reduced in 2018 following the second round of consultations. Environmental mitigation on the Cleve Hill site will include a 57ha habitat management area to protect bird species including lapwings, Brent geese, golden plovers and marsh harriers.

The project has always been controversial with opposition coming from the local council, residents, Kent Wildlife Trust, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and conservative MP for Faversham and Mid Kent Helen Whately. Swale Friends of the Earth have broken ranks with local protestors, backing the project because of its contribution to carbon reduction.

Objectors’ concerns have centred on the impact of the project on local habitats and wildlife and on the size of Cleve Hill’s battery installation. There are fears that a fire could lead to "thermal runaway", causing a plume of toxic hydrogen fluoride gas to drift over the local urban areas in Faversham and Whitsable.

Wheatley has argued that the installation, whose footprint is the same size as Faversham, will "industrialise the countryside".

"I’m worried that plans for a solar farm will cover Graveney marshes, changing the landscape beyond recognition," says Wheatley on her website. 

 Swale BC was told in the High Court in July, following a legal challenge, that there was no legal basis on which to pursue a judicial review. 

Tim Valentine, cabinet member for environment for Swale BC, said that denial of judicial review was a "shock" to residents

"Although the development will go ahead, there is still a lot that local people can do to reduce the negative impact as much as possible," Valentine stated. "I hope all interested parties will engage with the consultations on the final requirements."

Environmental consultancy Arcus carried out an environmental impact assessment for the project including flood risk, since it is located on a flood plain. A landscape management plan has been agreed with Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and the Environment Agency allowing the solar park to deliver a claimed biodiversity net gain of 65%. Consent is limited to 40 years.

A spokesperson for Wirsol said that the facility will save over 68,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, bring £27m investment to the local economy over 25 years and contribute business rates of more than £1m a year to local councils. 

Chris Hewett of the Solar Trade Association welcomed the go-ahead as a milestone for renewable energy in the UK.

An even larger solar power project will be operational by 2025, if plans are approved. Located on sites in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, the Sunnica Energy Farm is set to provide 500MW to the grid and to power 100,00 homes. Smith Brothers Contracting has been confirmed as the independent connection provider (ICP). Up to 2.5GW of new solar farm sites are under consideration or seeking approval.


Source: https://environment-analyst...

JUL 31 2020
http://www.windaction.org/posts/51766-green-light-for-cleve-hill-solar-giant
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