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Biggest UK Solar Plant Approved

The go-ahead has been given to the UK’s biggest solar farm, stretching 900
acres on the north Kent coast.

The government approval will allow power to be supplied to 91,000 homes.
The project might include one of the world’s largest energy storage systems,
but there has been a huge amount of resistance from the local population, and green groups have been divided. Greenpeace, the RSPB and the countryside charity CPRE are against the plan.
They say it’s industrialising the countryside – and may harm an adjacent wildlife site. But Friends of the Earth offered a counter argument, on the grounds that the current intensively-farmed land was bad for wildlife anyway.
Their spokesperson Mike Childs said: “No-one wants to see damage to local habitats, but this is not some lovely, untouched meadow.
“Changing the use of the site from intensive agriculture will reduce the high level of chemicals currently harming insects and wildlife – but we have to hold the developers to account”.

Rooftop panels?

Environmentalists want the developers to offer free rooftop solar panels to the local population who are protesting against the solar farm – and especially against the giant energy storage unit, which they fear may prove an explosion risk.
The facility will use 25 acres of the total land and the countryside charity CPRE says the proposed battery storage system has caused fires and explosions around the world.

The developers Wirsol Energy and Hive Energy have argued that it’s safe. They maintain the subsidy-free project will be one of the lowest-cost power generators in the UK and will bring local councils £1m every year.

Cheaper panels

In 2015, the government controversially announced it would phase out subsidies from solar power, to a huge amount of protest from the industry.
But the cost of solar panels has tumbled by two thirds since 2010.
The Energy Secretary Alok Sharma said the decision was taken after careful consideration – but said the project would be an important world leader in solar and power storage.