Swale Borough Council has obtained legal advice on the prospect of a judicial review to overturn a consent order for a 350 MW solar power station and battery storage on Graveney Marshes.
The order was granted to Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 28 May, and the opinion received is that there is no basis upon which the decision can be legally challenged.
The council was extremely disappointed with the decision, which was a great shock to local residents.
The development will industrialise a site the size of Faversham, which is in a very sensitive location. Although the council understand the need to generate renewable energy at scale, it is equally important to protect our few remaining wild places.
The developer now needs to submit proposals to the council on several requirements they are obliged to meet.
These requirements cover aspects that were the major areas of concern at the planning enquiry, including management plans for battery safety, landscape and biodiversity and traffic.
The council is required to consult some official bodies on these proposals, such as the Health and Safety Executive, Kent Fire and Rescue, Natural England and Kent County Council.
The council is committed to going beyond this by consulting local community groups such as Graveney and Goodnestone Parish Council, Faversham Town Council, Graveney Rural Environment Action Team (GREAT), the Faversham Society, CPRE and Kent Wildlife Trust.
We are extremely disappointed by the Secretary of State’s decision yesterday to permit the development of the Cleve Hill Solar Power station. The Society supports renewable energy and solar power in particular. Renewable energy should be mandatory for all new houses being built in and around Faversham, indeed nationwide, but successive governments have failed to require this.
The Faversham Society’s objections clearly stated in our final letter to the Secretary of State stand. We are opposed to any development project that will detract from, not enhance, our community. We shall now review the documents, consult our members and others, and consider what steps to take in the wake of today’s decision.
This decision will have a major impact on our community as a market town set in a rural coastal environment. The industrialisation of Graveney Marsh will also affect the entrance to the Creek and plans for its regeneration.
We shall have more to say when we have had time to digest the reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision and more importantly the Development Consent Order.
The Secretary of State's explanation for his decision
Examining Authority’s Recommendation Report
The key document is the Development Consent Order, this gives the developer permission to proceed and the powers to do so. Before work can commence the developer need to get detailed consent for Swale Borough Council. However, Swale can only attempt to ensure compliance with the DCO.
Development Consent Order as Made
The Daily Mail summed up the examination process accurately:
"An extensive examination was held last year to iron out controversial topics with locals such as wildlife, traffic, visual impacts and battery safety."
The Mail's description of the process is much more accurate that the Planning Inspectorate's
The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Sarah Richards said:
“The Planning Inspectorate is committed to giving local communities the opportunity of being involved in the examination of projects that may affect them. Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in a 6-month long examination. The Examining Authority listened and gave full consideration to local views before making their recommendation.”
That is not our experience of the process, we spent hours raising our concerns to no avail. The CHCP team of highly paid consultants and lawyers were so disrespectful that on one occasion the Chair of the Examining Authority required that they apologise. Probably fearing that the behaviour might be part of a Judicial Review.
Our representations made no discernible difference to the outcome.
Coverage on KMTV
The Rt Hon Alok Sharma,
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy,
1 Victoria Street,
London SW1H 0ET
Dear Secretary of State,
The Faversham Society has close to a thousand members concerned to conserve our heritage, our culture, our natural heritage and our built environment. We were initially conflicted about our response to the Cleve Hill development. We support renewable energy but saw the solar ‘farm’ as damaging our heritage and industrialising a large part of the rural hinterland which defines our market town. Our local MP Helen Whately and our parish, town and borough councils also strongly oppose the proposed development
The Faversham Society supports the government’s green priorities, and we support green growth. However, this development will create very little, if any, local employment. We are dismayed that hundreds, potentially thousands, of new homes are being built around our town with no renewable energy and little attention to water efficiency. We have engaged intensively with the Examination and the more we have learnt about the proposal, the more implacably opposed to it we have become.
Before Covid-19 struck, 64 people had signed our petition before we placed it online. The online petition has at the time of writing been signed by 4,079 people. We regard this as a significant achievement in a small market town, without the benefit of engaging people in our market place or holding a public meeting which had to be cancelled.
We have a number of serious concerns; this is dirty solar, and the proposal should be rejected.
Many of our members have copied me in on letters which they have sent to you urging you to think carefully about your decision on this application as you weigh the benefits of solar generation against so many negative impacts. If you do decide in favour of the project, the DCO must provide Swale Borough Council with the means to enforce it effectively. The applicant should not be enabled to use the Rochdale Envelope and the threat of litigation to bully the LPA into consenting at the final planning stage. We outlined the minimum necessary conditions and processes to achieve this in our submission in response to your request of 3 April 2020.
We urge you to reject the proposal recognising that on balance, the benefit of solar generation is outweighed by its negative impacts and the safety and terrorism risks inherent in the battery complex.
Professor Harold Goodwin
Chair, Faversham Society
cc Kwasi Kwarteng Minister.Kwarteng@beis.gov.uk
Helen Whately MP
Matthew Hatchwell, of our Environment Committee, has been invited to write a Guest Blog on Miles King's
Miles King and www.anewnatureblog.wordpress.com
This morning Kentonline reported on Graveney Solar Farm
They reported CHSP Ltd :- But bosses at Cleve Hill Solar Park say they are working with an industry leading battery supplier for the project’s energy storage proposals and have been provided reassurances on safety standards.
"In conjunction with these experts we have produced a battery safety management plan which has been consulted on and agreed with the Health and Safety Executive and Kent Fire and Rescue Service," they add.
We have submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Health and Safety Executive
We have the following statement from Kent Fire & Rescue This was received from the Kent Fire and Rescue Service on 13th February 2020, which is long after the Examination process concluded. We have seen no evidence to support the claim reported to have been made by Cleve Hill.
Hi Marie, thank you for your email and apologies for my delayed response.
Our position currently is as outlined by Matt below in that we have not been formally approached nor in any consultation process for this site at this moment in time. We will keep an eye on the ‘development consent order’ and will engage accordingly with both planning and developer.
David Brown AIFireE
Group Manager I Operational Planning
Kent Fire & Rescue Service
Don't Delay: sign the petition and write today to the Secretary of State – we know that Cleve Hill is now being actively considered by staff in the Ministry
There are many reasons to object to the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Power station – the short paragraphs below are for you to pick and choose and adapt to make your case to the Secretary of State.
Please sign our petition to say NO to a massive, dangerous, dirty Solar Power Plant with the world's largest batteries close to homes http://chng.it/r2S9PKTxZN
Please encourage friends and relatives to sign too; this project will set a national precedent.
Ensure that it is clear that you are objecting: if you are emailing put objection or objecting in the subject line. If you are writing, head your letter OBJECTION.
The postal address is: The Rt Hon Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET
I am objecting to the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Power Station for the following reasons:
I strongly support alternative energy and cannot understand why so many new houses are being built around Faversham with no renewable energy. I strongly support renewable energy as essential to reducing carbon emissions. I cannot understand why the government permits the building of new houses without solar, wind or heat pumps. This would be a much better way of providing low carbon energy and making housing more affordable. Why is the government not requiring more energy-efficient homes since retrofitting is much more difficult and expensive? Why did the government withdraw the Code for Sustainable Homes in 2015?
 The Faversham Society is a strong supporter of renewable forms of energy generation. When the Cleve Hill proposal first emerged, many of us were conflicted. As the details emerged, we became more and more sceptical. We are now opposed to the development as "dirty solar."
There is no inconsistency in supporting solar and objecting to the Cleve Hill development.
The Faversham Society regrets that the thousands of new houses being built around Faversham and across Swale are not required to be eco-friendly and sustainable. We also support the development of small solar parks which continue to be built in our area. These are mostly unobtrusive and meet the National Grid's expressed preference for decentralised, local renewable supply systems.
The government withdrew its Code for Sustainable Homes in 2015.
Para 151 of the current National Planning Policy Framework refers (151 c) to identifying “opportunities for development to draw its energy supply from decentralised, renewable or low carbon energy supply systems and for co-locating potential heat customers and suppliers."
Unfortunately, para 153 enables developers easily to escape this obligation: “In determining planning applications, local planning authorities should expect new developments to:
(a) comply with any development plan policies on local requirements for decentralised energy supply unless it can be demonstrated by the applicant, having regard to the type of development involved and its design, that this is not feasible or viable.”
Open letter to The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Society, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H OET A signed paper copy has been sent
Proposal to build a 350MW Solar Power Station with 700MWh Battery Energy Storage System at Cleve Hill, Graveney, Kent
Dear Secretary of State
I am the Senior Partner in the largest GP practice in Faversham, Kent . We serve a population of 18,500 patients, and a large part of the population of the village of Graveney is on our list. I am writing on behalf of the practice to urge you to decide against the above proposal on the grounds of the dangers to health, and indeed life, associated with the proposed Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).
When I first joined the practice, 29 years ago, one of my patients was a veteran of the first world war, who was still suffering the effects of chlorine gas: I think this proposal needs to be considered as having the potential to inflict a gas attack even worse than that which he experienced.
You will be aware from the report of the NSIP Examination that the proposed Lithium-ion BESS will be the largest in the world by a factor of five. Moreover, the installation will be within one mile of the village of Graveney and its primary school, and less than two miles from the historic market town of Faversham with its population of 19,000.
It is well established that Li-ion batteries are prone to runaway fires which can lead to explosions. Indeed, such fires at much smaller installations in the USA has led regulators to question the use of such batteries and pause further developments, especially close to habitation. The larger the BESS, the greater is the risk of a runaway fire. In the event of a fire Li-ion batteries emit a cloud of highly toxic Hydrogen Fluoride which can spread at dangerously high levels over distances of 1-2 miles, enveloping the town of Faversham and nearby coastal communities. These effects were modelled in detail in evidence to the Cleve Hill Examination.
Toxicity of Hydrogen Fluoride
Hydrogen fluoride goes easily and quickly through the skin and into the tissues in the body. There it damages the cells and causes them to not work properly. The gas, even at low levels, can irritate the eyes, nose, and respiratory tract. Breathing in hydrogen fluoride at high levels can cause death from an irregular heartbeat or from fluid build-up in the lungs. At lower levels breathing hydrogen fluoride can damage lung tissue and cause swelling and fluid accumulation in the lungs (pulmonary oedema). Eye exposure to hydrogen fluoride may cause prolonged or permanent visual defects, blindness, or total destruction of the eye. People who do survive after being severely injured by breathing in hydrogen fluoride may suffer lingering chronic lung disease.
I am extremely concerned that the potential hazards associated with such a large BESS pose an unacceptable risk of death or long term illness to the population which is served by Newton Place Medical Practice.
I, therefore, urge you to decide against this proposal.
Dr Alastair Gould
Newton Place Surgery
This was submitted to the examiners today.
I am fully aware that all deadlines for submission have passed, but the submission below is based on an important recent official document relevant to the several references to the 2012 battery fire in Flagstaff Arizona, that have been made throughout the CHSP Examination. The relevant regulator - Arizona Corporation Commission has recently (2/8/19) published its determination in that matter and in the matter of a more recent 2019 BESS fire and explosion in Surprise, Arizona. Given it's authoritative, definitive and conclusive nature, I am requesting that for completeness this submission is brought to the attention of the Examiners before they make their recommendation to the Secretary of State.
Addendum to Deadline 7 Submission by the Faversham Society to the CHSP Examination Relevant to the Dangers Associated with Lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems
Determination by the Arizona Regulator – The Arizona Corporation Commission: August 2, 2019 RE: IN THE MATTER OF THE COMMISSION’S INQUIRY OF ARIZONA PUBLIC SERVICE BATTERY INCIDENT AT MCMICKEN ENERGY STORAGE FACILITY PURSUANT TO ARIZONA ADMINISTRATIVE CODE R14-2-101. (DOCKET NO.E-01345A-19-0076)
Throughout the course of the CHSP Examination, the Faversham Society and others have raised serious concerns about the safety of Li-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) as evidenced by the incidence of runaway fires and explosions at BESS around the world. All such incidents involved BESS considerably smaller than that proposed by the applicants for CHSP. In our previous submissions and discussions during the examination, one of the more serious BESS fires - the 2 MWh battery fire in Flagstaff Arizona in 2012 was referenced, but at that time no conclusions had been drawn by the US authorities.
2 Summary of the Determination
Commissioner Sandra D Kennedy of the relevant Regulator - the Arizona State Commission, has now reported on the incident.
Her full report is here
Her conclusions are of great significance and include:
''The Flagstaff Fire Department report ''....references fires with ''10-15 ft flame lengths'' that grew into ''flame lengths of 50-75 ft'' with fire ''appearing to be fed by flammable liquids coming from the cabinets'' '. This highly significant piece of evidence shows how a fire can spread from one container to another and flatly contradicts the CHSP applicant's assertion that 100 containers are no more of a fire hazard than a single container and that any fire will be contained within a single container.
The Fire Department Report also states concerns about ''a serious risk of large scale explosion'' and ''the cabinets involved are full of lithium (sic) batteries that are extremely volatile if they come into contact with water.''
The Commissioner clearly states:
''Knowing now how easily a fire and/or explosion can evidently occur at these types of relatively small(2MW) lithium ion battery facilities, it appears that a similar fire event at a very large battery facility (250MW+) would have very severe and potentially catastrophic consequences, and that responders would have a very difficult time trying to handle such an incident.'' The BESS proposed for CHSP is even larger at 700MWh.
The Commissioner recommends that any large scale BESS should be ''built in isolation'' and says ''an explosion could potentially flatten buildings at some distance''. She also draws the analogy that ''a 2MW battery facility is equivalent to 1.72 tons of TNT'' This makes the CHSP BESS equivalent to 602 tons of TNT. This is 1/20th of the TNT equivalent of the Hiroshima atom bomb. Moreover the CHSP BESS is within one mile of Graveney village and two miles of the town of Faversham.
The Commissioner also reinforces our community's fears about batteries ''with chemistries that include compounds that can release Hydrogen Fluoride in the event of a fire and/or explosion and states clearly that ''those types of lithium ion batteries are not prudent and create unacceptable risks'' Moreover, contrary to the claims of the applicants the Commissioner reinforces Dr Erasin's evidence stating that ''large amounts of hydrogen fluoride could be released and dispersed that would affect and harm the public at a substantial distance downwind'' and adds that ''There would be concerns about lingering hydrogen fluoride contamination in the affected areas.''
The Commissioner is clear that: ''water should not be used to suppress a fire such as a battery facility...'' - yet this was the method the applicants and their advisors favoured for CHSP.
The Commissioner also lays down stringent requirements for the protection of responders (fire and rescue services etc) to any incidents. None of these has been acknowledged by the proposers or by KFRS.
Given the absence of National Planning Statements on BESS, it is important that the Examination is guided by authoritative sources with experience of BESS projects. We would urge that the attached ACC Determination is the most thorough and up-to-date such source currently available.
This Determination by the Arizona State Commission clearly reinforces the view of the Faversham Society and others, expressed in evidence to the Examination, that the risks associated with Lithium-ion batteries are unacceptable at any scale and especially when close to habitation. It is clear that a proposal for a Battery Energy Storage System close to Faversham, which will be over five times the size of the current largest in the world, poses unparalleled risks and must be regarded as recklessly dangerous and totally unacceptable.
Professor Sir David Melville CBE, BSc, PhD, FInstP, CPhys, Hon DSc, Sen Memb IEEE(USA)
Vice-ChairThe Faversham Society
The Faversham Society supports solar power, along with wind power and other forms of renewable energy. We are accordingly dismayed that hundreds of new houses are being built around Faversham without any sustainable energy provision. The Society supports clean solar. However, the Cleve Hill proposal is for dirty solar: we have major concerns about the batteries, safety and security and decommissioning. These concerns have not been allayed by anything presented at Deadline 6 or subsequently.
We do not consider that a strong enough case for need has been made to outweigh our concerns about the proposal from the developer. In our Deadline 5 submission (REP 5-053) we presented cogent arguments that in light of the rapid developments in small-scale localised solar PV it is impossible to establish that CHSP is needed to meet the requirements projected by the National Grid in their FES 19. This argument is reinforced by recent reports of potential growth in off-shore wind and ‘floating’ solar PV. The applicants in their submission to Deadline 6 (REP 6-015) unconvincingly seek to refute this argument by suggesting that the FES figures cannot be disaggregated between generation types and that the current proposals in planning are not an indication of projects which will materialise. We remain unconvinced since the disaggregation we used was that of the National Grid and it is clear that even if only about 60% of the projects in planning materialise, the FES 19 targets will be met without the need for CHSP. This argument coupled with the lack of National Planning Statements for Solar PV and BESS noted in our previous submission (REP 2-111) establish that it is perverse to proceed with a project on such unprecedented scale which is admitted to cause great harm and danger to communities, wildlife, environment and heritage.
Scale & Flood Risk
As the examination concludes, we remain concerned about the scale of this proposal that will industrialise an area larger than Faversham with major aesthetic and environmental impacts including reduced and degraded recreational space for this rapidly growing town.
As Tim Ingram’s submission makes clear, the Environment Agency’s MEASS demonstrates that they originally intended managed realignment for the site. The CHSPL proposal has raised the value of the land to the extent that the EA can no longer afford to purchase it. We share Graham Setterfield’s concern that CHSPL has failed to prove that the risk of flooding in the town has not been increased by its proposed development.
Enforcement of the DCO
We argued in our verbal presentations at the last hearings, and our Deadline 5 submission that the local authority will struggle to exercise its ongoing responsibility for monitoring, discharge and enforcement of the requirements in the DCO within the eight-week time limit.
CHSPL’s assertion [2.10.7] that the DCO includes Requirements offers no assurance. The Requirements are unclear and therefore very difficult if not impossible for Swale Borough Council to enforce.
In our submission at Deadline 5, the Faversham Society called for “enforceable requirements” to be included in the DCO and suggested those that we felt should be included in the construction and operational phases. We specified those agencies whose approval CHSPL should be required to obtain before their operational plan is presented to Swale Borough Council.
The permission granted in Part 2 2 (2) (c ) of the DCO: “the outline design principles, or such variation thereof as may be approved by the relevant planning authority pursuant to requirement 19”, is very broad and will leave Swale with a large burden of oversight confronting a wealthy project undertaker. We seriously doubt the capacity of Swale or any other LPA adequately to secure the public interest in overseeing this development. The lawyers will have plenty of scope to challenge any attempt by Swale to enforce the DCO. We suggested that prior approval be required by the DCO. This has not been required.
There is no prior approval requirement in §19 and §20. The project undertaker is merely required to consult prior to application. They are not required to secure approval. The public interest would be better protected if the agencies - HSE, Public Health England, KFRS, the Ambulance Service and NHS, the Kent Police Service and the Environment Agency – were clearly included as “discharging authorities” alongside the LPA, Swale.
§18-§24 provides for appeals and we foresee threats of legal action becoming a regular feature of efforts by Swale to enforce a weak DCO in order to protect the public interest. We, therefore, request that the Planning Inspectorate ensure that the DCO is robust in securing the public interest. The provisions in §18-§24 may be reasonable for an infrastructure project using tried and tested technology, but the CHSP is not using a tried and tested technology and the risks of fire and subsequent explosion are great.
Batteries – Safety Risk
In 13.11 CHSPL asserts that its Outline Battery Fire Safety Management Plan has been reviewed by the “HSE and is currently being reviewed by Kent Fire and Rescue.” There has been very limited discussion with the KFRS, indeed CHSPL waited to be contacted by them before consulting with KFRS. It is clear that KFRS only contacted CHSPL after the Faversham Society raised its concerns with KFRS. CHSPL did not approach them and we regard this as unreasonable given the new hazards, and the scale of those hazards, that will result from the construction and operation of the batteries. In particular there is no evidence that KFRS have yet taken into account the fact that the proposed BESS at 700MWh is now over five times as large as the current largest in the world - the 129 MWh ‘giant battery’ built by Tesla at Hornsdale in Australia. Additionally, in their responses the applicants have failed to adequately reassure us that their proposed safety measures will be effective at this scale, given the repeated failure of these measures at sites around the world. In these circumstances we suggest that the DCO require that full approval of the Safety Management Plan be secured from KFRS and the HSE before submission of the final plans to Swale Borough Council.
The Outline Battery Fire Safety Management Plan will need to be revised when final decisions about batteries are made. That new plan should be approved by KFRS and the HSE before submission to Swale. The review of the Safety Management Plan for a very large installation using emergent and untested technology will not be a simple matter and it will take time. Swale will not have sufficient time, within the eight weeks, if there is not prior approval from KFRS and the HSE. Given the scale of the public safety risk we still regard it as essential that Public Health England, the NHS and the Ambulance Service approve the plan and risk mitigation.
The DCO requires 3 (4) that Swale “must consult with the Health and Safety Executive and Kent Fire and Rescue Service before determining an application for approval of the BSMP.” In 20 the undertaker is required merely to consult “another person or body prior to discharging a requirement” where the local authority is “required by this Order or other statute to consult with another person or body prior to discharging a requirement”. The developer is not required in the DCO to secure prior approval from the regulatory public agencies which in our view should extend to HSE, Public Health England, KFRS, the Ambulance Service and NHS (they will need to have plans for a major incident), the Kent Police Service and the Environment Agency.
Security & Terrorism
In 2.13.1 CHSPL’s response that it will address the terrorism risk by installing CCTV is derisory. If the solar power station were to be approved, the status of the Cleve Hill site should be formally reviewed via a Security Considerations Assessment in particular because of the BESS and the significantly increased risks associated with it. CHSPL’s response to concerns about terrorism suggests that they are not even aware of that need and raises the question of whether they’ve planned for the costs of enhanced security (including possible daily visits by security services) in their financial projections. Since there is no battery system anywhere in the world on the scale of the proposed BESS at Cleve Hill, CHSPL should provide explicit information on what parameters will be used to assess risk, who will shoulder security costs, at what stage that assessment will be conducted, to what extent the coastal location of CHSP exacerbates risk, and what the implications of the risk assessment are for insurance. If – as we believe likely – the security risk is assessed as being high, a final decision on whether the project should proceed should not be taken until the answers to these questions are known.
CHSPL has argued throughout the examination process that it will adopt the best available BESS. As the scale of the proposed system is unprecedented, the associated plans should be reviewed in fine detail by the relevant responsible agencies to ensure that they comply with the DCO, and that the DCO is sufficiently tightly written to ensure that environmental damage and health and safety risks are minimised, and that the development and its subsequent operation poses no threat to life. These conditions should be based on the precautionary principle, enforceable requirements and binding guarantees on decommissioning.
Consultations with a Lloyds Underwriter suggest that “no one’s going to insure that”. Is there no way that the adequacy of the insurance can be subject to regulatory oversight? Given the consequences of a fire and explosion should this development not be subject to much more robust oversight than a local planning authority §18-§24 can provide?
Traffic and Transport
We are unconvinced by the applicant’s Traffic Plans and remain concerned that such huge volumes of HGV and other construction traffic will, during the construction phase over a period of 2-3 years, be passing within a few metres of the primary school playground and classrooms with only minutes between vehicles. The impacts on young children of noise, pollution and danger should not be understated and in our view the applicant’s mitigation proposals are totally inadequate. Regular monitoring will be essential with a facility to stop the traffic if unacceptable levels are reached or when children are required to use the road, for example to cross from the school to their playing field.
Traffic disturbance will also continue throughout the lifetime of the plant, associated with regular maintenance as well as damaged and spent battery replacement. Li-ion batteries which have failed are likely to be highly toxic and dangerous and the applicants acknowledge this in their (still) Outline Battery Management Safety Plan submitted for Deadline 6 (REP 6-021). The Faversham Society and local parents and teachers are deeply concerned that their children will be exposed to regular traffic which is acknowledged by the applicant to be subject to mandatory rules based on UN guidance concerning the ‘International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) 2019’ as well as the UK Government’s guidance on the transport of dangerous goods ‘Moving dangerous goods, Guidance’.
Further, we are dismayed that the applicants have dismissed our concerns, and those of others, regarding the width of the road through Graveney village, the lack of pavements and the impossibility of passing vehicles for much of the route. We assert that the traffic associated with this proposal makes passing places and pavements essential and that, were the project to go ahead, the applicants should be required to fund the necessary land acquisitions to ensure these.
The coastal landscape in which the proposed CHSP would be located is characterised by populations of iconic British wildlife species including marsh harriers, Brent geese, golden plover, lapwing, the critically endangered European eel, water voles and dormice to mention just a few. The neighbouring Swale Ramsar site, Special Protection Area and Marine Conservation Zone, as well as the Oare Marshes reserve, were established to protect those species and their coastal habitat and in recent years have become increasingly popular attractions for visitors to the area and as amenities for local residents.
Because of its unprecedented scale, apart from its inevitable negative visual impacts the long-term effects of the proposed CHSP on species and habitat cannot be accurately predicted. As a result, most conservation organizations oppose the project and, if it does go ahead, have urged CHSPL to adopt a precautionary approach where wildlife is concerned. While the current low-grade agricultural land at the Cleve Hill site is not ideal for wildlife, the Environment Agency’s proposal (in its draft Medway Estuary and Swale Strategy, MEASS) to allow over 200 hectares of the site to revert to tidal saltmarsh via managed realignment would have had multiple and profound benefits not only via improved wildlife habitat but also in the form of other ecosystem services including carbon sequestration, coastal protection and provision of nutrients for marine organisms. By its own admission, the alternative site to Nagden Marsh that was adopted by the EA in the final version of the MEASS – Chetney Marsh – is not suitable for managed realignment because of the presence of nationally-critical infrastructure so has been earmarked instead for the lesser intervention of “habitat adaptation.” The opportunity cost of deferring managed realignment at Nagden Marsh by atleast 40 years is therefore very substantial. Saltmarshes constitute the second most valuable ecosystem for humans after coral reefs, providing benefits to society valued in 2014 at just under US$193,000 per hectare per year – i.e. roughly £30m every year.
On that basis, the Faversham Society’s position is that – if other problems such as the BESS, security concerns, etc., can be overcome – the project should be relocated to an alternative site where the benefits of a renewable energy project could be achieved without the unacceptably high opportunity costs. The EA’s reasons for stepping away from managed realignment at Nagden Marsh should be questioned, an independent study conducted of any increased risk of coastal flooding as a result of that decision, and the entire matter revisited if permission for the CHSP is declined and the price of purchasing the land for reversion to saltmarsh returns to a normal market level.
Chair of the Faversham Society
Submission on behalf of the Faversham Society to Open Floor Hearing 3 - for Deadline 5
The Need for CHSP in the context of Demand for Solar PV – Addendum
According to National Grid data on solar energy requirements CHSP is not needed. This need is already being met by the rapid growth of smaller-scale solar arrays, with 4.8 Gigawatts of solar projects planned for completion between 2019 and 2022 excluding Cleve Hill.
This far exceeds the National Grid’s 2019 Future Energy Scenario which predicts that the maximum additional demand for solar required between 2019 and 2022 is 3.0 Gigawatts.
This paper updates our previous analysis submitted under the Need Submission for CHSP including more detailed information on National Grid 2019 Future Energy Scenarios (“NG FES”) and updated information on Solar PV projects currently in planning.
Crucially, the National Grid’s projections of need for solar PV through to 2022 have been revised down whilst the growth of small-scale solar PV projects in planning has accelerated, making it now impossible to justify any need for CHSP on the basis of national energy requirements.
2. Government policy
There are two key UK Government targets for delivering a pathway to zero carbon and maintaining global temperature increases at sustainable levels:
A target to operate the electricity system at zero carbon by 2025; and
The target from 80% reduction in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2050 as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, was updated in June 2019 to net zero emissions target
3. The National Grid Future Energy Scenarios
National Grid consider the above targets in developing their FES. They, of course, recognise the need for immediate action to address these important targets considering a whole system approach and using multiple technologies across heating, electricity and transport energy demands.
Crucially, two of the four pathways presented by NG FES achieve the 2050 decarbonisation target. These are:
This is considering the whole system approach outlined by national grid who consider the overall requirement of the UK energy system to ensure the maintenance of security of supply including: imbalance and the lack of inertia which results from renewable energy; the cost of delivering this energy security; and the decarbonisation goals.
4. Updated analysis
Given the above, we have updated our detailed analysis presented previously for the 2019 FES electricity generating capacity projections presented by National Grid, using specifically their projections for solar PV capacity to be required in each year.
5. Updated Solar PV capacity in planning