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Kent council rejects proposals for 18MW solar farm

Pent Farm Solar Proposals

Another day, another Kent council has rejected a proposed project that could have helped secure the UK’s energy security with cheaper and cleaner electricity. 

RNA Energy had proposed the installation of an 18MW solar farm in Postling, Kent, spanning 66-acres. The site’s location within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty attracted strong opposition from locals, however. 

While the developer had hoped that the solar farm would provide enough power for 5,000 homes, while still being accessible for agricultural use, the proposal was rejected by Folkestone & Hythe District Council. The Green-led council rejected the proposals on the grounds that the solar array could visually harm the landscape. 

Speaking to Kent Online, Cllr Anita Jones (Green) noted, “A solar farm is an amazing idea and we do need more of those, and of course I’m in favour of solar energy but I think it needs to be in the right place – and there are other locations you could have such a site.

“I took a walk up there this morning just to get an idea of the scale – it’s beautiful and I think it would be a real shame.”

The decision wasn’t completely supported by her colleagues, however. Cllr Rebecca Shoob, who also sits with the Green Party on the council, backed the proposals, commenting, “The demand for clean energy is huge and we need to provide it rapidly – this is proven technology that can do that.

“So we could wait around for other things to come forward but the climate emergency is getting worse and worse.

“The climate emergency for me overrides the harm.”

RNA Energy had promised to put biodiversity at the heart of its proposals, anticipating opposition from local residents. It also highlighted that the site would be operational for 40 years and should not be compared to more permanent installations, such as new housing or new roads. However, the local council ultimately voted to reject the proposals seven votes to four. 

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen local councils in Kent, or even those elsewhere in the country, reject energy infrastructure that could help the UK decarbonise. In fact, Swale Borough Council rejected a 50MW battery energy storage facility in Faversham just a few weeks ago, while Medway Council declined approval for a solar array on its own offices.

Meanwhile, the UK Government is content to push forward with new gas and nuclear power plants, without the fear of local authorities standing in the way. That’s in direct contrast to what many green projects throughout the UK are facing, including onshore wind, which continues to face serious obstacles, despite the Government lifting the de facto ban

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