Kent

Graveney marshes giant solar farm given go-ahead

Birds flying over Graveney
Image caption Campaigners argued the solar farm would threaten wildlife, including marsh harriers

Plans to build the UK's largest solar farm on the north Kent coast have been approved by the government.

The Cleve Hill Solar Park will consist of 800,000 panels built on 890 acres (360 hectares) of farmland at Graveney.

The two energy companies behind the scheme have said the plant will generate power for more than 91,000 homes.

But campaigners have branded the move "ecocide" while local MP Helen Whately said she was "disappointed".

Image caption Local campaigners and politicians said they were disappointed

Kent Wildlife Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England had opposed the scheme and claimed the development would threaten wildlife, including marsh harriers.

But the developers said the solar farm would have an area set aside for birds.

Faversham MP Ms Whately said campaigners had "put forward a strong and positive message about how to make these marshes a better place for wildlife - but clearly it wasn't enough to win".

The plans were approved by Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

The Planning Inspectorate's chief executive Sarah Richards said local people's views had been properly considered during the consultation process.

On Twitter, two Liberal Democrat members of Faversham Town Council hit out at the decision. Antony Hook wrote it was "a terrible decision for local people and wildlife", while Hannah Perkin posted: "This is ecocide."

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