Sheepwash solar energy farm plans submitted following positive feedback
Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable energy producer, has submitted plans for a new solar energy farm on land at Little Cheveney Farm between Claygate and Marden, Kent.
Subject to planning approval, Sheepwash Solar Energy Farm has the potential to make a significant contribution to local business rates and deliver opportunities for local suppliers during the construction, operation, and maintenance phases of the build. In addition, the proposals include measures to enhance local plant, animal, and insect populations, including new or restored hedgerows, wildflower planting, bird and bat boxes and habitats for bumblebees – making this a great opportunity for local wildlife. Two new ponds will also be created and planted with native pond species, helping to encourage amphibians and insects at the site.
Prior to submitting the application, Statkraft carried out a public consultation on the proposals during Summer 2021. This included engaging with local Parish Councils and residents to introduce the plans and gather feedback at an early stage of the planning process.
Charlotte Healey, Project Director for Statkraft, commented:
“We would like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in our public consultation last summer. We have been working hard since then to ensure our plans respond to local feedback. Thanks to the feedback we received, we were able to add a second footpath and increase the number of biodiversity measures.
“We are extremely excited about Sheepwash Solar Farm’s potential to help the UK’s transition to low carbon energy and enhance Maidstone Borough Council’s position as a key player in renewable energy generation while helping to mitigate the effects of global climate change.”
The land proposed for the project is 75 hectares of land between Claygate and Marden, of which a large proportion will be dedicated for habitat, biodiversity, and landscape improvements. The plans include a 50MW solar farm and a battery storage system.
The energy storage component is a series of batteries that will store energy generated by the solar panels when demand is low. At times of high demand, this energy can then be fed back into the grid. Battery storage systems such as this are part of wider efforts to remove carbon emitting fossil fuels from the UK’s energy supply.
As well as restoring or replanting damaged sections of hedgerow, Statkraft will plant more than 16 hectares of wildflower meadows, with newly planted native trees covering an area equivalent to three and a half football pitches. The new plantings will allow the soil in area to rest and recover while also restoring elements of the local environment that have been lost or damaged over time.