Consultation to commence on new solar park on north Kent coast

Proposals for a solar farm in excess of 350MW on the north Kent Coast are being brought forward by Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd, a joint venture formed by two solar industry specialists – Hive Energy Ltd and Wirsol Energy Ltd.

The proposed Cleve Hill Solar Park is a pioneering scheme, which does not require government subsidies. The project could have a generating capacity exceeding 350 megawatts (MW), which would be enough to power approximately 110,000 homes a year. This is roughly equivalent to the number of households in Swale and Canterbury in Kent, combined.

Due to its proposed generation capacity being over 50MW, the Cleve Hill Solar Park will be the first solar farm to be classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). This means Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd will make an application to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a Development Consent Order (DCO).

The project is being supported by specialist planning lawyers, Pinsent Masons, leading on the DCO application process whilst environmental specialists, Arcus, will be undertaking a full Environmental Impact Assessment for the scheme. Communications and consultation support is being provided by leading communications agency, Counter Context. Xero Energy will be providing grid connection, battery energy storage and electrical engineering support.

Proposals for the scheme will include the latest developments in solar technology. In order to provide the maximum electricity output at Cleve Hill and make most effective use of the land, Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd. are proposing to orientate panels towards the east and west.

The project is also proposing to include battery storage technology to provide balancing services for the grid. Cleve Hill Solar Park requires electrical connection infrastructure and a substation.

Plans for the scheme are currently at an early stage. A first phase of community consultation is due to commence later this month with a series of community consultation events to be held at the start of December. A second phase of consultation will follow early next year, with submission of the DCO application scheduled for later in 2018.

Hugh Brennan from Hive Energy, said:

“The Cleve Hill Solar Park is a pioneering scheme that aims to optimise the technological developments in solar energy. Our ambition is to deliver the first non-subsidised renewables project of this scale, delivering low cost, clean, home-grown energy to power UK households”.

The proposed development site is located on the north Kent coast roughly one mile northeast of Faversham and three miles west of Whitstable, and closest to the village of Graveney, within the district of Swale.

More information about the proposals and details of the consultation events can be found on the project website: www.clevehillsolar.com