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Solar farm condemned before decision is made

Proposed installation off Thanet Way labelled ‘unjustifiable’ 

The new Solar farm near Chestfield
The new Solar farm near Chestfield

Council planning offices say a 200-acre solar farm that could power 15,000 homes should be rejected because of the impact on the views of the countryside. Owls Hatch Solar Farm Ltd hope to build the green energy scheme near the Share and Coulter pub, to the south of the A299 Thanet Way. It follows completin of a simliar site on the northern side of the dual carriageway between Chestfield and Greenhill. But in a report ahead of a plainning meeting on Tuesday, officer David Campbell has recommended refusing the application. He said:

“The proposal is considered to result in detrimental impacts on the character and appearance of the countryside and Special Landscape Area. While the benefits of new renewable energy developments and practical connection to the power network are acknowledged, without adequate demonstration alternative sites have been explored would give rise to an unnecessarily harmful development.”

His report described the proposal as being “unjutustifiable loss of agricultural land” and against national planning guidelines. The report has been welcomed by chairman of the Canterbury branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Barrie Gore. He said:

CPRE’s Barry Gore; Green Party's Ed Targett
CPRE’s Barry Gore; Green Party’s Ed Targett

“I’m pleased with all the points raised and very relieved that it has happened. Hopefully they will make the same decision on Tuesday, and at a different site in Nackington as well. In the draft local plan we would like to see that industrial sites are required to be fitted with solarpanels, rather than the countryside”

But Herne Bay Green Party parliamentary candidate Ed Targett criticised the report. He said:

“Given the council appears to have absolutely no quylms about coating the countryside with houses, it seems odd to be trying to block this development in an isolated position that causes no damage. The project would generate clean energy for 15,484 households per year, reducing carbon emissions at a time of serious climate change and when the UK remains heavily dependant on coal power for electricity generation. The UK has legally binding renewables targets to meet and if the land owner wants to use the land for solar, they should be allowed to if there is no damage to the site.”

He added that he hopes the applicant will address concerns about assessing alternative sites forthe scheme, and would reapply if it is turned down.

Herne Bay Gazette, December 4th 2014

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