Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Spotlight
28 May 2020updated 16 Sep 2021 4:50pm

Decision expected on UK’s largest solar farm

Plans for the £450m Cleve Hill Park in Kent have divided opinion amid environmental concerns.

A solar farm capable of delivering clean energy to 91,000 homes will be built on the north Kent coast if, as expected, it is approved by government ministers on Thursday.

Cleve Hill Park, a joint venture between Wirsol and Hive Energy Ltd, would become the largest facility of its kind in the UK, stretching some 900 acres just outside of Faversham. It would involve the construction of 880,000 solar panels, each with an energy capacity of 350MW.

The site would also include one of the largest energy storage units in the world – three times bigger than the lithium-ion battery built by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, in Australia three years ago.

Cleve Hill’s developers are hoping to get the green light for their £450m project from the business secretary, Alok Sharma, following three years of talks with local stakeholders. If approved, construction on Cleve Hill would begin early next year, with a view to supplying electricity to local homes by 2023.

The project, though, has attracted plenty of opposition, on account of both its impact on the local wildlife and natural beauty of the countryside, and the perceived safety risks related to storing so much energy in one place.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Helen Whatley, the MP for Faversham, warned that the scheme “would destroy an entire landscape” when speaking to the Telegraph.

Content from our partners
Why economic growth needs the right leaders
Why ports are the gateway to growth
We are living longer than our predecessors – policy must catch up

Meanwhile, the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said in a statement: “The battery storage envisaged has caused fires and explosions around the world…It is equivalent to 602 tonnes of TNT, which is a twentieth of the TNT equivalent of the Hiroshima atom bomb.”

Nevertheless, Sharma, an outspoken proponent of solar projects and who told parliament in March that “solar photovoltaics are a UK success story”, is expected to give Cleve Hill the go-ahead on Thursday.

Topics in this article: