Given the extent of residential development currently in the pipeline, the likely rate of traffic growth in Faversham will not be sustainable. The Town faces worsening congestion, visual intrusion, loss of heritage townscape, pollution, noise, dirt, and accident risk. At present, the Town is hoping to tackle the problem via three major schemes all of which attempt among other things to re-distribute travel demand away from the private car in favour of ‘active travel’ (cycling and walking) together with public transport:
(i) the ‘20’s Plenty’ area-wide speed limit,
(ii) the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP), and
(iii) the emerging Neighbourhood Plan.
The proposed Solar Cycleway through the Cleve Hill Solar power station would contribute positively to all three. As it happens, the SUSTRANS National Cycling Route 1 passes through the area, and while a significant part of the route eastbound towards Whitstable lies off-road along the Creek and through Sandbanks, it re-joins the Seasalter Road at Graveney. Conditions for walking and cycling from that point on to Whitstable are less than ideal and will be considerably worse once the construction of the power station begins.
The Faversham Society strongly opposes the power station project itself but recognises, should it go ahead, that there are potential advantages to incorporating a well-designed walking route and cycleway into the scheme. The key benefits are:
- promotion of public health,
- supporting action to combat climate change,
- Increasing public awareness that travel choice needs to shift away from the private car,
- improvement to an existing national cycle route,
- reducing pedestrian and cycle casualties,
- adding to the attractiveness of Faversham as a destination for walkers and cyclists,
- raising awareness of the natural environment in the Graveney area.
The Society disagrees, however, with the proposal to run the cycleway through land that is designated in the Cleve Hill scheme for wildlife conservation rather than solar power station infrastructure. The cycleway would bring with it increased pedestrian traffic, including dogwalkers, whose passage would have an inevitable negative impact on wildlife, especially ground-nesting birds. As a result, we welcome the proposal on the condition that the cycleway is routed through land that is designated for solar power station infrastructure in CHSP plans, not for wildlife conservation. It is unlikely to progress without a feasibility study, and a successful initiative should involve multiple stakeholders including Sustrans, local authorities, and Kent Wildlife Trust as well as the developer of the power station.
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