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Reject solar farm Kent Petition (Destroys Birdlife) (1 Viewer)


Registered User
Can I urge a few people to go onto the UK epetitions website and sign the "Reject plans to build a massive solar farm on Graveney Marshes in Kent" ? https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/215451

A few words from the various articles linked here, as Elon Musk is the figurehead here...and that in my opinion he is backing the wrong project. I like Solar on brownfield/rooftop sites. I thought Elon was a supporter of rooftop-solar-systems? The existing farms in the Swale estuary are run by brilliant bird-lovers and provide a great natural unspoilt environment that will be damaged by these plans (RSPB opinion not mine).

"The proposed 890-acre solar farm, five times as big as Britain’s largest existing one in Wiltshire, lies outside Graveney, near Faversham in Kent, along the edge of the Swale estuary, an officially designated Biodiversity Operational Area. This is home to rare nesting birds and surrounded by protected zones for wildlife."


My own personal views are shared below as I love this area of Kent coastline. But the big names involved need a number of other people to sign this petition as well as the RSPB/Wildlife trusts etc. I would urge the UK Goverment to try a few more Brownfield Sites instead before destroying the good coastline/farmland/estuary-land. Please reject this plan and:-
1) re-start UK Goverment funding of efficient Pumped storage Projects instead...Or Does the SNP / British Goverment think spoiling our farmland and estuaries is OK with electrical solar/battery projects? Great farming land destroyed!
2) I am a supporter of Green Energy BUT these solar/battery plans need to be stopped by the common sense of the UK General Public.
3) Brownfield site plans should come first using the UK Goverment solar & New business schemes. This should place the emphasis on solar on the factory roof Brownfield Site improvements first.

Further References Needed here:
a)How many brownfield solar schemes on Supermarket distribution centres would be needed to replace this scheme (roughly 12 x 60 acres)? Probably one single Supermarket chain could do this, i.e. 720 acres of roof or 12 factories ??


Kent Bird-Lover and Swale Farmland Supporter.
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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
We have many acres of these in Norfolk now and everytime I pass one of the largest ‘solar fields’ en route to Cambridge during snowy weather, I see how winter birds are feeding on the snow-clear ground under them, and in hot weather, I see how the sheep shelter in the cool shade under them and the wildflower strips running through the lines of panels over the whole field. We need to cut CO2 drastically if we are going to slow the anticipated rate of species extinction over the next 50 years so we need to get non fossilised fuel energy from somewhere! They generate income for the landowner, and allow the farmer to create pollinator reserves within them among other environmental benefits and I would much rather see these than windfarm sails covering every hill, mountain and coastal area in the UK chopping up bats, raptors and migratory birds, or fields and fields of gm oil seed rape that do little for biodiversity.

I will add though, the possible negative environmental impact of solar fields on birds and insects has not been researched adequately asfaik
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Registered User
A fair point you raised....But would you rather see brownfield sites used for solar. I would. And the farmland being managed for wildlife and birds as on the opposite bank at Elmley Kent NNR/RSPB reserve adjacent to the solar development ? I have never seen as many hares in one place as Sheppey/Elmley, always a good sign.

Was the Norfolk field you mention an arable field originally ? i.e. growing cereal crops before the Solar farm was created ? As we all need to live on an island habitat, sharing valuable resources; I wonder how much farmland/woodland/scrub can be accommodated next to these solar Panels? Kent Scrub-land i.e. dozens of acres of hawthorn/damson/3m tall trees for Marsh Harrier /Hen Harrier/Cuckoo/Nightingale/Turtle dove(?) etc and other birds, using this valuable habitat will be lost as part of this development. I do not want to see this happen...Kent is also the "Garden of England" with fruit farms visible from the proposed solar site.....should these be taken over by solar as the next step? Birds and humans co-exist here as well.

So part of the area was originally a low lying saltmarsh environment with a great range of waders. Can this contain solar and birds? The detail needs looking into and at the last count some of the plans exceeded 1000 acres of solar (one quote from another website).

The estuary/adjacent farmland is a valuable resource that must provide a balanced ecosystem for all. The local
Reed-beds are another important site and I am extremely worried by the Kent development and the potential impact on this area.

Solar Income for the landowner, yes....but they do own barns and outbuildings, that are in some enlightened cases being used for solar...not the field which can have other uses. Parts of Norfolk were reclaimed for the purpose of farming, a contentious subject I know for a birdforum. We do need to cut C02 emissions and Wind, tidal and solar have a part to play. For example the Offshore Wind farms like the largest in Europe - Walney Extension 659MW on top of existing Duddon and Walney sites are reducing C02 emissions now. A great site as utilisation ratios (>42%) are high because of the UK wind Maps and better than Norfolk/Thames Array utilisation factors. The point is appropriate siting of Renewables is important. But birds and turbines is another debate that I constantly have with myself.

The tide is turning! See https://simecatlantis.com and other renewable sites around the UK. I also mentioned other green projects that could provide a green return in my post.. and I hope the government will look at those issues.

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I am also unsure of the overall pros and cons of solar farms. I believe that designed and run sensitively they could be a major factor in creating broad wildlife corridors within farmland and reconnecting fragmented habitats. I also believe that UK and wider business interests are perfectly capable of making a huge cluster of it.

Accordingly it is essential that the response to solar projects from the conservation side is intelligent, balanced, positive where possible and, as soon as possible, fact-based. On-side guidance will be far better than NIMBYism. The animals don't have a sense of "ugly" and we should get rid of ours in their interest.



Registered User
Everyone, Look up, and I mean literally as I hope to do...by placing Solar on my Roof. The CPRE arguments for roof based solar are sensible...you need to fasten the solar Panels to something (or foundations in the field)!
Please understand that I have lived around differant parts of the UK and never mentioned "ugly" OR being currently a Local (Family in Kent +lived there for around 12 years) so only my scientific arguments can be labelled at this objection.
I personally see beauty in both Nature and the Engineering world, Solar Panel and Wind Farms included.

Nobody has mentioned the science and links so far.. this will always underpin my arguments, change the scheme to be a more balanced plan.

Another way of looking at my balanced arguments about appropriate site use would be as follows:-

1) Look at the CPRE roof top arguments - they are naturally inclined at 10 degrees to make good use of solar(natural 10% gain).
2) Do not put large Container sized "350 MWh battery array" Battery Storage Units on Greenfield sites (waste heat output from this is Huge or preferrably use money for the next Pumped water Storage system like the 7.1GWh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruachan_Power_Station )....IF you have to use batteries use the neighbouring Brownfield sites in Sittingbourne...not rocket science, but then somebody involved already knows that!
3) Can we have rational science based argument on using the 370MW Cleve Hill Substation for Wind / Solar / farming or change it to NNR. If we have to connect something to the existing substation...which utilisation factor produces the greatest C02 reduction by connecting to the grid here?
4) Plastic/energy/C02 argument....Buy my Swale fruit/vegetables or import plastic wrapped Spanish supermarket produce with associated C02 transport issues. I must now look into the C02 argument and see if this is part of the scientific PEIR (thanks John).
5) RSPB to continue work with partners like: https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/ou...-climate-change/uk-energy-policy/solar-power/

I see that http://anesco.co.uk were involved in Dorset Solar Farms and yes Deb, I would like to see further research undertaken to actually measure the benefit from these solar projects to farming or wildlife and humans. I like being positive..not hiding the facts inside a large employment/investment news story.

Nothing is ever black and white......another interesting article about what Spain is doing when we lose 890 acres of farming land. You make you own assesment of local produce verses Solar farms verses C02. If you agree with me add your vote to the epetition.
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Registered User
170 species recorded in 2017......https://kentos.org.uk/oare-marshes/
My own experience was of Merlin/Hen Harrier coming from the Conyer Creek a few years ago + 50 listed in above Report.

Some more info Nov 2017 https://cprekent.org.uk/energy/worst-possible-place-put-solar-farm/

Note Size of Batteries unknown, see Quotation from Solar Company "“Battery storage technology forms an intrinsic part of the proposal for the Cleve Hill Solar Park and is an exciting part of the future of renewable energy generation,” a statement issued to Solar Power Portal read.
Planning documents reveal that the developers have requested permission for a battery facility up to 350MW in capacity, however SPP understands that the final development capacity will be resolved following discussions with National Grid."


Just thought I would update Post.
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Well-known member
Interesting thread...I've looked at the (relatively limited) literature on the ecological effects of solar farms in recent years, been involved in monitoring a site which included a solar farm (although I wasn't monitoring the solar farm project per se), and have a limited experience of battery storage projects. So, a few points on their pros and cons:

1) The solar farm I know had breeding lapwing on the site pre-construction, which have now been displaced from the area - presumably primarily because waders need good sightlines, and are unlikely to choose to breed under a solar array;
2) The same solar farm - contrary to some predictions - continued to support several skylark territories in the year following installation. These now appear to have been lost, but whether this is because of the panels or (more likely IMHO) because the land underneath is now mown rather than grazed is uncertain;
3) Contrary to expectations based on my literature search, waterfowl appear relatively unaffected - a small pond was covered with panels at the site in question, and supported a pair of tufted ducks last time I looked, which seemed perfectly capable of navigating in and out between the rows of panels;
4) (3) illustrates that solar farms don't have to alter ground conditions to any great extent, they don't need huge foundations like wind turbines or require land clearance or earthmoving - it's therefore reversible, insofar as land could be put back to agricultural or nature conservation use in the future relatively easily;
5) a field of solar panels generates much more electricity than the same field with a couple of wind turbines on it;
6) battery storage units in my experience are usually just a few shipping containers in a field, but I understand at about 2MW per container, you are looking at 175 containers for 350MW - unless this is some fancy new storage technology which takes up less space.

I don't think solar farms should be dismissed out of hand, but I think you are right to be concerned at a very large scale development on or near an important bird site. Of course the loss of farmland is a whole different argument, and one that I believe influenced the government when it pulled the rug from under solar developers a couple of years ago with changes to the subsidy regime. For new schemes like this to be coming on stream, they must have found a way to reduce costs and / or increase income - I suspect the battery storage element might be a very important part of making it viable.

Farnboro John

Well-known member
Research into energy dense materials for future batteries is a big thing at the moment, not only for electric vehicles but also future directed energy weapons: it would be surprising if it wasn't also to spin off into more bang for the buck in solar battery facilities.


Registered User
I spoke to a friend in Northumberland recently and he said a number of Solar developments there as well. Anyway Nice to read your post on Solar Farms. (also note https://cprekent.org.uk/campaigns/energy/ that's a lot of Solar farms around the SE).
I see the councils are up against National Infrastructure Planning sites and cannot get clear guidance on a local scale then issues will always exist. As you see from my posts Batteries are my real bug-bear (off grid locations great battery locations but within this small UK island..National Grid should be doing efficient central storage like dinorwic and others with EROI rates >60).
One of the Solar farm economic arguments (including Batteries ) lowers the EROI from 8 down to 1.5 when including Pump storage and therefore, the following paper asserts; makes it borderline with Batteries. BUT National Grid peak fees would be possible....which will I am sure be the argument here as that is the next negotiation to take place).
(makes the economic argument borderline http://festkoerper-kernphysik.de/Weissbach_EROI_preprint.pdf )

Better joined-up-thinking needed that does not involve the "sole-scientific-love" of a Battery-storage project. As an Engineer I have seen the ways over the last 20 years that energy storage has been debated....No official central policy yet.......badly needed from the UK Chief Scientific Adviser, not a politician.

Hope we do not follow Australian plans on blocking non local opposition to develoments etc. We seem as ever to be living in a time when money still has the ability to manipulate political power...don't know why I am surprised about this.

You might be interested in this article - which is loosely connected to Batteries - based in Fareham, Hampshire, the £15m facility looking at alternate heat storage methods ( which could be underground mining salt caverns as others have proposed)

You also mentioned Wind Energy and if you know the dates of old/new projects look at the Capacity Factors here when they use large Rotors (EROI 25-30+ Low Wind Machines to capture more energy). And in my opinion use the extra cleve-Hill substation capacity (as per the original planning submission years ago)....to expand offshore wind as we need to Cut C02. EROI is just one measure.......

And the Battery technology, according to Cleve-Hill post this week has yet to be decided but will probably be Container sized. Extremely dissapointed to note they still want to place these on farm land; not on a brownfield location, which could heat a few shopping centres while they are at it..not drying out some lovely Marsh/Farmland!

I note your comment above "the same field with a couple of wind turbines on it...." could still be used for farmland as my local farmer has done with a load of Vestas turbines running for around 15 years, together with the profitable Milking Farm beneath them. The farming land still supports bird life, a few Lapwings+ others as I remember at this location.... and has lovely hedgerows...supporting many other invertibrates...Triple Use site.....Now that is one way to efficiently utilise this small Island and reduce C02 emissions.
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