Largest solar park in the UK gets the green light from Alok Sharma

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BUSINESS Secretary Alok Sharma has granted consent today for what is set to be the largest solar park ever constructed in the UK.

Cleve Hill Solar Park on the north Kent coast will generate up to 350MW to power over 91,000 homes, reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels and lower CO2 emissions by 68,000 tonnes a year.

The subsidy-free project is a joint venture project between Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy.

A spokesperson for the developers commented on the news: “We are proud to lead the way to deliver the UK’s largest solar park.

“Cleve Hill Solar Park offers a real solution to our urgent climate needs and showcases the potential for the UK to lead the green recovery.”

Located close to the village of Graveney, the solar park will comprise of an array of solar photo-voltaic modules, energy storage and associated development infrastructure, connecting to the existing Cleve Hill Substation.

A dedicated Habitat Management Area of 56 hectares (138 acres) has also been allocated on the site for bird species including Lapwing, Brent Goose, Golden Plover and Marsh Harrier.

The developers have promised that over £1 million of income will be generated per year by the solar park for local authorities to invest in improving local services.

Due to the capacity of the solar park exceeding 50 megawatts, the project is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

The Planning Inspectorate’s Chief Executive, Sarah Richards, commented on the decision: “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 six-month long examination.

“The Examining Authority listened and gave full consideration to local views before making their recommendation.”

Founded in 2010 by Giles Redpath, Hive Energy is responsible for installing in excess of 300 MW of generating capacity across the country.

Wirsol is a highly experienced solar park developer, constructor and operator across the UK, Europe and Australia.

In the UK, Wirsol has built 24 solar parks, equivalent to 159 MW across the UK to date.

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive for the Solar Trade Association, also commented on the announcement: “Today the Government has shown that it recognises the vital contribution solar can make to Britain’s energy mix.

“This is a major milestone on the road towards a UK powered by clean, affordable renewables.

“Solar has a significant role to play in boosting the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“With the right policies we can expect to see an 8GW pipeline of solar projects unlocked and rapidly deployed, swiftly creating a wealth of skilled jobs and setting us on the path towards a green recovery.”