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Secretary of State's Decision on Cleve Hill

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

Faversham Society reported in Aberdeen

The Ecologist

May 29, 2020

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The Faversham Society - Registered Address: 10-13 Preston Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 8NS
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