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Landlord in solar farm fury over muddy trucks

Share & Coulter’s lunchtime trade ‘has been destroyed’

MUD: Claire and Trevor Robinson are worried about the impact of the construction on their business
MUD: Claire and Trevor Robinson are worried about the impact of the construction on their business

THE building of a giant solar farm and the closure of a nearby road, is losing his pub business, says a landlord. Trevor and Claire Robinson run the Share & Coulter in Owls Hatch Road, south of Herne Bay, close to the 200-acre solar farm being developed by British Solar Renewables. The development was approved last month by city councillors and construction began soon afterwards. Mr Robinson said lorries using the road to get to and from the site are causing problems, leaving mud everywhere and putting off customers. And he’s had enough.

“l’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 councillor who was coming to see me.”

As well as his lost trade, Mr Robinson says that he fears for the safety of children travelling to and from nearby schools on the road.

“I’m really concerned there could be a smash,”

he said.

Danger

“My own wife and three kids use that road for school — I’m aware of the danger, with the 40ft articulated lorries that are constantly using it. 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.”

A Kent County Council spokesman said the closure was authorised months before planning permission for the solar farm was granted

“and before we became aware that solar farm construction was due to start that same month (January)”.

He added:

“Because of cabling works for the Kentish Flats Wind Farm, being carried out by contractors for wind farm owners Vattenfall, Kent County Council made an order to prohibit through traffic between the junctions with Molehill Road and Thornden Close from 12 January for up to six weeks. The alternative route is via Owls Hatch Road, Bullockstone Road and Greenhill Road. Kent County Council is liaising continuously with the site to reduce the effect on the highway.”

Herne Bay Times, February 25th 2015

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