The building of a giant solar farm and the closure of a nearby road is costing his pub business, a landlord says. Trevor and Claire Robinson run the Share & Coulter on Owls Hatch Road, south of Herne Bay and close to the 200-acre solar farm being developed by British Solar Renewables.
The development was approved last month by Canterbury city councillors and construction began soon afterwards. Mr Robinson says that lorries using Owls Hatch Road to get to and from the site are leaving it covered in mud and putting off potential customers to his pub.
“I’m not opening at lunchtimes during the week now because we’re serving absolutely no one at those times – no one is coming here. We had been opening and paying staff, but what was the point when we didn’t have any customers?
The problem is in two parts. Firstly, the road is now so muddy because of the trucks going backward and forwards to the site that no one wants to use it to get here. Secondly, Thornden Wood Road has been closed by the county council, meaning that some drivers have no choice but to come this way. This obviously makes the state of the road even worse.
It’s total chaos up here. The whole situation is making it difficult to even find where we are. Even my area manager for the last two years couldn’t get to me – nor could a local councillor who was coming to see me.”
As well as what he says is his lost trade, Mr Robinson says that he fears for the safety of children who are brought to and from nearby schools on the road.
“I’m really concerned there could be a smash. My own wife and three kids use that road for school – I’m aware of the danger, especially with the number of lorries. I think it’s dangerous and can’t understand why the county council allowed the road to be closed at the same time as the solar farm was going up.
Although the solar farm certainly isn’t pretty, it’s got no bearing on me or the pub, but I didn’t anticipate the disruption it would cause. I didn’t bother objecting as I knew it was going to go ahead anyway. To be fair to the developers, they’re using jet-washes to clean the lorries’ wheels and they’ve got two road-sweepers up there all the time, but there’s only so much they can do.”