Irish solar developer BNRG Renewables has partnered with Lightsource Renewable Energy to develop a 20MW solar farm in Kent.
The €35 million project will become one of the largest solar farms in the UK, comprising 82,000 solar modules across the 49-hectare site. The solar developers estimate that the farm will produce enough clean electricity to power over 6,600 households a year.
After receiving planning permission, BNRG director David Maguire said: “The most sensitive part of developing a large-scale solar farm is ensuring open and honest community engagement during the planning application process. Furthermore, this project will be one of the largest solar farms in the UK when it is built.
“Shepway District Council’s Development Control Committee voted 15 votes to one to support the scheme, while the council chairman commended BNRG for a well thought-out and environmentally sensitive proposal.”
Maguire’s comments follow the recent revision to planning guidance for solar farms which encourages local planning authorities to take more notice of local communities’ concerns.
Solar developers have come under renewed criticism recently over the development of rural land. However, the companies have defended the site’s rural setting noting that solar farms are a method of land diversification for farmers as the associated infrastructure only takes up around 30% of the allocated area, with the remaining space free for further grazing of small livestock or the sowing of wildflower mix to boost biodiversity.
Nick Boyle, CEO of Lightsource Renewable Energy added: “I want to re-enforce the message that this solar farm, once built, will be a local source of green electricity for 6,600 UK households with no noise or pollution.
“This is not about the here and now, it is about our future and our legacy. Solar energy has just made its mark on the nation’s energy mix, and Lightsource is committed to delivering solar power in the UK to its fullest potential, responsibly.”