Thanks again for getting in contact and providing your detailed feedback on behalf of The Faversham Society. I have since been in contact with our environmental and technical team and can provide now you with some more information regarding your feedback.
Regarding the Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) the site lies within, although the ESA will not be addressed directly (as it is not a planning designation), as part of the DCO process a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be undertaken, which will include a number of environmental surveys and assessments relating to wildlife designations and the biodiversity of the area. The impact on the existing agricultural land use will also be assessed. The findings of these surveys and studies will inform mitigation and enhancement measures. We will consult on these measures with statutory environmental authorities and local interest groups. We are in ongoing conversations with Natural England, RSPB and Kent Wildlife Trust regarding our bird data collated over the past 4 years and discussing mitigation proposals. Moving forward, we will continue to consult with stakeholders on our proposals to develop a strategy to ensure that adverse effects on birds as a result of the proposals can be appropriately mitigated. The drainage ditches currently in place will remain, and in some areas, the ditch habitat areas will be enhanced where possible. The agricultural land classification is relevant to the consideration of future land management provision within the site during the operational phase, and the potential for continued agricultural use (e.g. livestock grazing) is under consideration for the project.
Regarding footpaths, all your comments have been noted. We are open to the idea of enhancing or upgrading public rights of way in the area and have been receiving input from members of the public on this during this consultation period.
Regarding the shoreline and potential flooding, we have met with the Environment Agency to discuss our proposals and have commissioned a detailed flood modelling exercise to inform our project design. When we have received the flood modelling results, we will produce a project design which takes these results into account to ensure a safe and appropriate layout. Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd are engaging with the current consultation exercise on the Medway Estuary and Swale Strategy which will conclude in February 2018.
Regarding traffic, your comments have been noted. We will be producing a comprehensive Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) to control traffic movements throughout the construction period. The local community will be given the opportunity to comment on the CTMP before it is finalised. There is also some flexibility in how the solar park is constructed, e.g. quickly, with higher traffic volumes over a short period of time, or more slowly, with lower traffic volumes over a longer period of time. There are various influences on this, including wildlife, impact on local residents and likely weather conditions.
Regarding potential landscape and visual impacts, we are currently in consultation with the Council’s landscape consultants to seek agreement on the viewpoints which we will present and assess in our Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA). As we obtain more information on the project design, we will begin to model the visibility of the solar park from key viewpoints. This work will feed back into the project design, which will evolve to respond to the LVIA work undertaken.
The deadline for this first phase of consultation ends today. Once all comments are received we will be analysing the feedback and reporting this in an interim consultation summary, which will be circulated to our distribution list of over 12,000 local homes, businesses and interest groups. All feedback received to our proposals will also be reported in the final Consultation Report, which will accompany the Development Consent Order application for the scheme.
We are pleased that The Faversham Society is engaging with our proposals, and providing us with feedback. We will endeavour to keep you updated on our proposals and welcome your member’s valued input into how we can develop our proposals. Whilst the first phase of consultation ended on 22 December, all our lines for feedback are still open and we will continue to welcome the views and suggestions of your members.