Green campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan to build a solar energy farm the size of 600 football pitches on marshland that provides a habitat for rare birds such as the marsh harrier.
The proposed 890-acre 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.
Because it is also a flood plain, the project’s 989,000 solar panels will be mounted on frames 12ft tall – the height of a double-decker bus.
Campaigners are fighting to block a £400 million plan for a solar energy farm. Pictured the proposed site of the farm
The world's largest lithium-ion battery built by Tesla tycoon Elon Musk in South Australia. Mr Musk is thought to be behind the plans for the Graveney battery
The Graveney battery, also likely to be built by Elon Musk will be capable of storing 350MWhr
Unlike most solar farms, Cleve Hill Solar Park’s panels will not all face south, but east and west in a continuous zig-zag. The effect, say the scheme’s opponents, will be to turn green meadows into something resembling a colossal factory roof.
The proposed development would include the world’s biggest battery – almost three times as large as the current biggest, built last year by Tesla tycoon Elon Musk in South Australia. This has a capacity of 129 megawatt hours. The Graveney battery, also likely to be built by Mr Musk, will be capable of storing 350MWhr, with no fewer than 7,660 individual battery units.
In all, the battery units will cover an area the size of a further 15 football pitches.
The battery is crucial to the scheme’s profitability. By storing power generated during sunny periods in the middle of the day when demand and the changing electricity ‘spot price’ are low, the operators will be able to sell it to the National Grid at other times – such as the evening – when no solar power is being generated and prices are much higher.
The Cleve Hill sites 989,000 solar panels will be mounted on frames 12ft tall – the height of a double-decker bus
The project is so large it will not be governed by the usual democratic planning process. Instead, it will fall to Business and Energy Secretary