Regarding Faversham Creek Bridge: Paul Carter

KENT COUNTY COUNCIL  Thursday 18 October 2018
Question by Antony Hook  to Paul Carter, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Health Reform

REGARDING FAVERSHAM CREEK BRIDGE
A video recording can be viewed on the KCC Webcast system: https://kent.publici.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/374602
Question by Mr Hook

In 2015 Faversham was promised by Kent County Council that if the community raised £125,000, which was quickly done, the Swing Bridge would be rebuilt so that boats could once again pass, creating jobs and enriching our maritime culture. Would the Leader agree that almost four years on it is time for the promise to be fulfilled and a start date for work set?
Answer by Mr Carter
The ambition to restore the Faversham Swing Bridge, lockgates and dredge the basin, goes back many years and to the best of my knowledge is as follows:
The ambition for restoration gained momentum some five years ago, through the activity of several community groups who had the vision and saw the potential of restoring the basin to its former glory. This would allow boat owners to moor in the basin, enjoy the town and in addition, be a valuable tourist attraction. The community formed a steering group incorporating the already established Faversham Creek Trust.
Kent County Council very much wanted to support The Faversham Creek Trust and the Town Council in their vision.

David Brazier, the then Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste agreed to Mark Dance’s request (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) for Capital
funding. KCC set a Capital budget allocation of £450,000 which was subsequently increased to £510,000.
The Faversham Creek Trust raised £125,000.
Swale Borough Council pledged £200,000.
Faversham Town Council pledged £170,000.
In 2015, we were advised that the estimate for the work was circa £1.2million and all looked very promising as the budget broadly matched the estimate.

In 2016/17, design and procurement took place, culminating in final tenders being in the order of £2.6 million for the bridge restoration plus an additional £200,000 to repair the lock gates.

This was an exceedingly disappointing outcome and we needed to reflect on how we could solve the gap funding.

It was at my instigation, working alongside officers in Economic Development, that we researched the obligations placed upon the harbour authority, Peel Ports. We sought a QC’s opinion, which indicated that Peel Ports have obligations to restore the bridge to enable it to open and function as a Swing Bridge, including the lock gates.

Peel Ports have been advised of the legal opinion, and we are awaiting their full response. Various reminders have been sent, which culminated in the 14 October 2018 with a response and I quote from the letter from Peel Ports Group: “I can assure you that we are actively working on the matter, but that Peel Ports will not be forced into a formal response until a thorough and robust legal review has been undertaken”.

Supplementary question (summary)
Mr Hook asked why the estimate had been so badly wrong and why legal advice was not sought at the outset and whether, if Mr Carter would not set a date for work to start, he could specify a date when a date for work to start could be set.
Answer to supplementary question (summary)
Mr Carter said the error in the estimate was because a company in Faversham had said they would do it for the lower price then changed their minds. He did not know why legal advice was not sought earlier. It is down to Peel Ports when dates will be set.

All of the above can be watched in full online at the KCC website. https://kent.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/374602

Gunpowder & Ordnance Wharf

Faversham has a wealth of Gunpowder Heritage with many structures around the town as a reminder of the importance of gunpowder in our history not least Stonebridge Pond, and three museums: the Chart Gunpowder Mill, the Gunpowder Room in the Fleur, the Marsh Works, and the Oare Gunpowder Works.  

More than 30 people attended, many members and residents plus Canterbury Christ Church University, Faversham Creek Trust, Faversham Historians, FSARG, Faversham Town Council,  Lees Court Estate, Medway & Swale Boating Association,  Oare Gunpowder Works, Swale Borough Council (Economy and Community Services) University of Kent, SWAT Archaeology.

John Owen spoke on Faversham and the Defence of the Realm pointing out that Faversham is closer to the French coast than to Trafalgar Square and that Faversham had contributed men and materials to many wars. The East Kent Impress Officer Admiral Keeler lived in the town and men from Faversham were pressed for naval service as well as to provide skilled workers to the Naval dockyards and the line of ordnance: Sheerness, Chatham, Deptford and Woolwich.

The early years of  Faversham gunpowder production are not well documented, there are C16th references but nothing in the early C17th. Daniel Judd began production in 1655. In 1667 UK production of gunpowder amounted to 36,000 barrels of which 2,500 (7%)  were produced in Faversham.  Gunpowder was important to the prosperity of the town but demand, production and employment fluctuated wildly depending on to what extent it was required for conflict. However, in the early C19th gunpowder provided perhaps 20% of male employment in Faversham. By the 1820’s it employed only 20 men.

The Origins of Ordnance Wharf – post-Napoleonic

Pat Reid then talked about the archaeology of  Ordnance Wharf, situated between two outlet channels from the former Gunpowder works that correspond to the two main mills, Lower Mills to the east and Bennett Mills to the west. This small tongue of land was formed by the scour of these two channels either side, stirring up silt, and the slack water between the two channels causing the deposition of this silt. Ordnance Wharf is, in short, a mud bank. In Jacob’s 1774 map of Faversham, it is a simple, roughly triangular spit. The 1822 map shows the natural form of a mud bank. By 1842, however, according to the well-surveyed tithe map of 1842, it has a regular squared off shape implying the building of a revetment, and it is named Island Wharf, which implies usage by vessels.  The 1867 map shows this artificial form very clearly.  The revetting is brick, and a great deal of hardcore must have been deposited inside the brick walls to create a flat and firm surface.

Pat covered the site’s more recent history:  The building, nowadays known as the Purifier, was built to manage the purification process but the actual Guiseley purifiers, which produced toxic waste material (cyanide), were on Ordnance Wharf, as it had become known. Gas production ceased in 1957 and the purifiers were removed, although the site continued to be used for storage and repairs until 1992. Ordnance Wharf was left as a derelict and potentially toxic site.

  • It is clear that Ordnance Wharf came into existence as a wharf between 1822 and 1842. Whilst Faversham doubtless provided some gunpowder for the Napoleonic Wars it was not shipped from Ordnance Wharf.
  • Ordnance Wharf is seriously contaminated land and recent digging ceased for health and safety reasons.
  • Any building on the site would require piling which might damage the revetting brick.
  • It was agreed that the Faversham Society would convene a meeting of those with an interest in Gunpowder Heritage in the town to discuss how the story could be better communicated to residents and visitors.
  • It was further agreed that along with the Faversham Historians the Society’s History Group would consider the feasibility of organising a one or two day “academic conference with visits” on Gunpowder in the town in 2020.

The Society has a number of papers published on Faversham and gunpowder.

TS Hazard The Town Warehouse

Monday 1st October Faversham Society Members and Guests Meeting
Is there potential for a new maritime museum in TS Hazard, the C15th Town Warehouse?  A heritage centre or museum featuring Faversham’s maritime history, trade, the Graveney Boat, and the Cinque Ports.

More than 40 people attended, many members and residents plus Canterbury Christ Church University, Faversham Creek Trust, Faversham Historians, Faversham Sea Cadets, FSARG, Faversham Town Council, Kent Sail Association, Lees Court Estate, Medway & Swale Boating Association, National Maritime Museum, Swale Borough Council (Conservation & Economy and Community Services) University of Kent, SWAT Archaeology.

Faversham – the gift of the sea. John Owen spoke on the history Faversham and reminded us of the importance of the sea and Faversham Creek to the development of Faversham and its prosperity. The town is located where it is, north of the main road, because of the Creek and the trade with London and the continent associated with it. The development of the town and its importance in the medieval period through until the end of the C18th was based on its trading by sea.

Town Quay where TS Hazard stands existed by 1420 and it had two cranes. The Town Warehouse, now TS Hazard, dates to 1475. The first bridge over the creek was built in 1790, it became a carriage bridge in the 1840s. John Owen estimates that one-third of Faversham’s men were employed on the creek or their employment was reliant on it. He also pointed out that the creek provided year-round employment and that it was fundamental to wealth an importance of the town until the C20th.

By 1580 Faversham had sixteen hoys, six of which sailed regularly to London. Whilst there were relatively few prosecutions for smuggling a large volume of seized smuggled goods were auctioned in the town.
The coming of the railway in 1858 resulted in the slow decline of the importance of the creek,  although as recently as the late 1970’s fuel, timber and agricultural goods (fertiliser and grain) were being transported on it. As late as 1900 there were 5000 feet of quayside, nearly a mile of quays.

  • The Graveney Boat is in the custody of the National Maritime Museum and there is a long-standing ambition to have it on display in Faversham. If the Town Warehouse was to be used to celebrate Faversham’s maritime heritage – trade, gunpowder, oysters, bricks – and its Cinque Ports status then the Graveney Boat might be considered for inclusion.
  • Faversham should engage with efforts by the Medway & Swale Boating Association to establish the importance of the Medway and Swale as a leading centre of British, European and World Heritage. More   In the 1980’s Maritime Kent was recognised and promoted  as a major part of Kent’s tourism offer.
  • The Registrar of the Cinque Ports was to have attended but was incapacitated.  He is interested in the proposal for a new museum/heritage centre and confirms that the Confederation of the Cinque Ports has been generally supportive of proposals to bring the Ports’ history to a wider audience. The Confederation has yet to take a view and it is extremely unlikely that the Confederation would be able to offer any financial contribution.
  • Swale’s Conservation Officer outlined the steps being taken to ascertain the condition of the building, A survey by  Anthony Swaine Architecture Ltd was completed in March. They concluded that

    After 60 years, the building is, again, in need of significant repair with areas of decay particularly in the sole plates and at the river end where the wall framing is distorting as a result of decay in the cill.
    The roof coverings in particular have reached the point where major overhaul is required since the roof was not retiled as part of the 1960s refurbishment and may well not have been replaced for a considerable time before that.

    The next stage is for Canterbury Archaeological Trust (Rupert Austin) to carry out an archaeological survey – this is to commence imminently.

  • Those present were assured by Swale’s Economy and Community Services representative that no decision has been made about “repurposing” TS Hazard and that if it’s repurposing was to be considered that would only be after completion of a careful consideration of the state of the building and the work required to ensure its conservation. We were assured that any change of purpose for the building would be subject to full public consultation and alternative accommodation for the Sea Cadets would need to be secured.
  • There have been discussions about research opportunities in Faversham between researchers at the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich University and academics from both the University of Kent and Christchurch University have expressed interest. Whilst much work has been done by Faversham Historians and other academics there is still much to be done. The Faversham Society is keen to work with everyone with an interest in the history of Faversham and the Faversham Hundred to advance our knowledge of the past and to communicate it. The National Maritime Museum holds the records of James Pollock Sons & Co Ltd and they are keen to see them researched.
  • Flooding and a viable income stream to support any new use for the Town Warehouse would be significant challenges as well as funding the restoration of the building.

Public Meeting with the Duchy, Monday 15th October at 19:30

The Faversham Society and St Mary of Charity Church are keen that the people of Faversham have an opportunity to hear about plans for the future of our town from the developers and that there can be open public discussions about what is best for Faversham.

The open public meeting is in St Mary of Charity Church from 19:30 on Monday 15th October. The meeting will be co-chaired by
Rev Simon Rowlands and Dr Harold Goodwin

Representatives from the Duchy of Cornwall and Prince’s Foundation will be attending to provide an update following community and stakeholder workshops held across the Spring of 2018.

Swale Borough Council is currently undertaking a review of its Local Plan and has invited landowners and developers to submit proposals for New Garden Communities. As a local landowner, the Duchy of Cornwall is responding to this, putting forward a site on land south of Faversham which might be appropriate for future development.

 The Enquiry by Design workshops were established to work with the local community in Faversham and surrounding areas, to better understand the town, gain local knowledge and explore opportunities for the site. The Duchy will present the findings from the workshops and provide updates on the Housing Manual and next steps, within the Local Plan Process. During the meeting, representatives from the Duchy and Prince’s Foundation are keen to listen to your thoughts and answer questions you may have.

The Society is willing to organise similar meetings for all developers. Our interest is in encouraging informed engagement in the planning process as Faversham grows and in creating heritage for the future.

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Back in August the Duchy of Cornwall sent out this communication.

“As you know, Swale Borough Council is currently undertaking a review of its Local Plan and has invited landowners and developers to submit proposals for New Garden Communities.

As a local landowner, the Duchy of Cornwall is responding to this, putting forward a site on land south of Faversham which might be appropriate for future development. In the spring of this year, we held a number of Enquiry by Design (EbD) workshops and a drop-in exhibition, to work with the community to better understand Faversham and how the site should be developed, should it be allocated by Swale Borough Council in the Local Plan.

If you attended and participated in these events, we would like to sincerely thank you – the community’s input, insight and ideas have been invaluable.

A great deal of information was gathered throughout the EbD. The following main themes emerged early on and were reinforced throughout the engagement process. These provide a top-line summary and do not include every point raised, but rather ‘broad brush’ categories.

  • The importance of heritage – local people are proud of Faversham’s history and like that it’s reflected in the good mixture of architectural styles from different eras. Whilst participants would like any new development to reflect Faversham’s history and character, they were (on whole) more in favour of nods to existing architectural style, rather than replicating it.
  • Traffic congestion – concerns over traffic, in particular the A2 and Brenley Corner, resonated with people across Faversham who felt that it negatively impacted their lives, causing delays, reducing air quality and actually causing a safety hazard. There was a concern that any new development could make this worse, but also an optimism that a new development could create measures for improvement.
  • Affordable housing – it was almost universally agreed by participants that housing in Faversham has become unaffordable for local people. The concept of including genuinely affordable private and social housing was welcomed with caution, as long as the housing was available to local people.
  • Jobs and employment – participants felt that generally it is currently difficult to both live and work in Faversham. It was suggested new types of employment space would be welcomed to make Faversham more self-sustaining, environmentally friendly and less of a commuter town.
  • Countryside – the town’s relationship with the countryside was considered very important, both because of its agricultural roots and the beauty of AONB just to the south, it framed a key part of people’s identity. Although there was some concern about the potential loss of farmland, there was also support for any improvements that a potential new development could make to the ecology of the site, and connections into wider countryside to encourage people’s use and enjoyment of it.
  • Facilities and services – ensuring that any development supports and enhances services, rather than drains them was very important to the community. Strategically choosing types and locations of commercial uses was highlighted so not to impact the town centre. It was also generally felt that any new development should include supporting infrastructure – schools and doctors being particular examples.
  • Community spirit – there is a strong sense of community spirit in Faversham, with an active community involved in multiple social and sports clubs and activities. Any additional support to nurture this, through new development, was warmly welcomed.

The Duchy of Cornwall has now made its submission to Swale Borough Council in response to their New Garden Communities Prospectus. This will be reviewed by officers and councillors, before being made available to the public in the coming months. We will also ensure that we keep the community updated throughout the process, wherever possible.

A final output, currently being prepared by the Prince’s Foundation, is the Faversham Housing Manual, which will be based on the activities undertaken and feedback given at the EbD workshops. The document will set out simple but specific guiding principles of architecture and urban design for new development, using both illustrations and written descriptions. The Manual achieves this by setting out principles of good placemaking as well as a set of housing, public realm (streets and spaces), and block layout types that reflect Faversham’s individual character and the particular preferences of the community towards each of these.

Once the Housing Manual is complete, we will ensure it is made publicly available via our website, and we are happy to issue hard copies upon request. We will be in touch again shortly.”

You can find details of the Enquiry by Design work that the Duchy has been doing here http://www.favershamenquirybydesign.co.uk/

Published August 10th 2018

Faversham’s Marine Heritage: Trade and Gunpowder

Faversham Society Heritage Meetings  

October 1st TS Hazard – the C15th Town Warehouse
October 2nd Ordnance Wharf and Gunpowder

Please come along and participate in these roundtable meetings to discuss how best to make the most of this heritage for the future. We want to hear your ideas.

On the 1st and 2nd of October have two important members and guests meetings, both starting in the Fleur at 19:30. At each meeting, John Owen will set the historical context and then others will contribute on the conservation aspects and there will be an open discussion about how best the Society can engage to ensure that this heritage survives for our children, and their children,  and how we can celebrate and enhance that heritage now.

Monday 1st October: Is there potential for a new maritime museum in TS Hazard, the C15th Town Warehouse?  A heritage centre or museum featuring Faversham’s maritime history, trade, the Graveney Boat and the Cinque Ports.

Tuesday 2nd October: the importance of Ordnance Wharf, the creek basin and the Gunpowder heritage of Faversham. What more can we do to celebrate and conserve the heritage and to raise awareness of Ordnance Wharf?

These are unticketed events.

The Fleur Hall is behind the Fleur in Preston Street. From Preston Street go down Gatefield Lane and left into a small car park just before the  Faversham Club. The Fleur Hall is upstairs across the  car park

 

 

Where is our Bridge?

The Board of the Faversham Society has met with the Where’s our Bridge? campaign and decided to work with them to ask the question. In 2015 the people of Faversham raised £125,000 to restore our swing bridge.

There is a members’and guests meeting about the Swing Bridge in the Fleur Hall at 19:30 on Monday, October 22nd. This is an unticketed event.

The Where’s our Bridge? campaign is active on Facebook

They can be emailed: wheresourbridge@gmail.com

SPEED LIMITS AND EXHAUST POLLUTION

It is often said that a high-speed limit allows fast-moving vehicles to stir up the air and disperse exhaust pollution.  This doesn’t work in urban areas.  Wherever roads are congested, traffic movement is continually interrupted by vehicles turning in and out of side roads, stopping at pedestrian crossings, or parking at the side of the road.  If they can, drivers will move quickly from one obstruction to the next, and stop abruptly when forced to do so.  Each stop is followed by a period of acceleration, which injects a burst of fuel into the engine that results in additional pollution.

It’s all about smoothing the traffic flow.  If the speed limit is lowered to 20 mph, drivers don’t need to accelerate as much after each blockage to restore their original cruising speed, so the fuel emissions are reduced.  In addition, when moving at 20 mph, a driver can more easily anticipate blockages and slow down in advance so the deceleration-acceleration cycle is less pronounced and wastes less fuel.  This was confirmed many years ago by research in Germany that showed that when the speed limit in a built-up area was reduced from 50kmh (31mph) to 30kmh (19mph), drivers saved fuel and emissions fell (Newman and Kenworthy 1992, 39 –40).

By contrast, traffic calming measures can increase pollution.  For example, road humps force drivers to slow down to a very low speed.  Afterwards, they accelerate again, and in the process, generate emissions that could have been avoided if they had continued at a more modest but steady speed.  So it’s important to distinguish between physical measures on the one hand (which don’t help in terms of exhaust emissions) and 20 mph speed limits (which do).

For these reasons, in its policy document NG70, the UK National Institute for Public Health and Care Excellence NICE recommends 20 mph limits to reduce speeds in urban areas where average speeds are already low (below around 24 mph).

References

NEWMAN, P AND KENWORTHY, J, with ROBINSON, L (1992) Winning back the cities.  Pluto Press.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH AND CARE EXCELLENCE (NICE) (2017) Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health. NICE guideline NG70. Available for downloading  from https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng70

Chris Wright on behalf of the Faversham Society

04 August 2018

There is additional information online from other organizations

 20’s Plenty National

 Medical

Home Office

Rod King (20’s Plenty Chair and founder) the Independent Daily Edition, citing research by NGO Global Action Plan.

Affordable Housing in the new NPPF

The government has published a new National Planning Policy Framework.

The Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE)  has published research on affordable housing:

60,000 houses being planned for land that will be released from the Green Belt, while the percentage of ‘affordable’ homes built continues to fall

The Green Belt remains under severe pressure, despite government commitments to its protection, according to a new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

CPRE’s annual State of the Green Belt report [1] highlights that there are currently 460,000 homes being planned to be built on land that will soon be released from the Green Belt [2]. Moving Green Belt boundaries when reviewing local plans makes it easier for local authorities to release land for housing, but is only supposed to take place under ‘exceptional circumstances’. This strategic shrinking of the Green Belt, as a way of getting around its protected status, is as harmful as building on the Green Belt itself.

The report also demonstrates that building on the Green Belt is not solving the affordable housing crisis, and will not do so. Last year 72% of homes built on greenfield land within the Green Belt were unaffordable by the government’s definition [3].

Of the 460,000 homes that are planned to be built on land that will be released from the Green Belt, the percentage of unaffordable homes will increase to 78%.

CPRE warns that this release of land looks set to continue, as one-third of local authorities with Green Belt land will find themselves with an increase in housing targets, due to a new method for calculating housing demand. The London (Metropolitan) Green Belt will be the biggest casualty [4].

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The Cleve Hill Solar Park: The Society’s Concerns

The Faversham Society enthusiastically supports the development of all forms of renewable energy. We recognise the importance of using wind, solar and tidal technologies for power generation to reduce the use of carbon fuels and meet the UK commitments to reduce levels of greenhouse gasses.  However, we have grave concerns about the negative environmental and amenity impact of the solar power station being proposed at Cleve Hill and across the surrounding marshes. There are alternative brownfield sites available, and distributed generation is both possible and more desirable.

Our major concerns are listed here:

  1. Unprecedented Scale – What is being proposed on the outskirts of our town is an extremely large industrial development, as big if not now bigger, than Faversham itself. A development of this scale cannot fail to have a profound negative effect on the environment and reduce the economic and amenity value to those both living in and using the area. We will need to be convinced by the economic and environmental logic of building a single site at this scale.  If the logic for constructing a plant of this size is so convincing why are there not similar developments anywhere else in Europe and beyond?  Moreover, this is an experimental development. We understand that it is 15 times the size of the largest UK solar farm and we are told that neither the developer nor the builder has attempted a solar installation on this scale before.

During the consultation process, there have been many changes to the proposal. Plans for the battery installation are still unclear.

We are disquieted that our marshes are being used for this experiment. We are also worried that if the Cleve Hill development is allowed on this far- eastern edge of our Borough, it will create a precedent that over time, will allow marshland to the west to be sacrificed until the whole of Swale’s north Kent coastline becomes an industrialised zone.

2. Implications of Site Enlargement – there has been a significant increase in the size of the proposed site during the consultation period. This has been achieved by developers including a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the seawall, the latter to enable the developer to negotiate with the Environment Agency in order to mitigate the risk of managed retreat on the operator’s assets. (panels, batteries and other plant)   This has enabled the developer to now claim that the panels will only cover 55% of the site (as if this in some way reduces their impact) and to include the extra land and the SSSI as part of their calculations concerning the benefit to the environment that they suggest the power station will create. This raises serious issues regarding responsibilities and wider governance.

3. Flood Risk –These marshes are a protective floodplain for Faversham. The seawall is currently the responsibility of the Environment Agency and therefore under democratic control. If the Agency were to delegate responsibility to the operators of the site for the flood defences, they would be able to raise the height of the wall at will in order to protect their assets. This lack of public accountability for such important actions is unacceptable. We also have concerns about the impact of insulating such a large area of land from inundation – most particularly on increasing the flood risk in Faversham town – already prone to flooding. The marsh area has long been a coastal floodplain.

Proper quantitative modelling of the long-term risks of the flooding of our town and surrounding villages is required.

In addition, it is our understanding that a large battery area (apparently the size of 15 football pitches) that developers intend to construct, will be built so as to block the existing drainage ditch which separates Graveney and Cleve Marshes.  Moreover, the whole area is to be surrounded by a high earth bund.  This will increase the risk of flash-flooding across and more particularly beyond the site in the downpours that are occurring with increasing frequency.

  1. The governance of the SSSI – We are equally disquieted about the fact that because of the recent enlargement of the site the future of an important SSSI will be put into the hands of a private sector developer. We know that the way that SSSIs are managed is critical and without oversight, by a public body we are not confident that the incentives of the developer and operator would ensure the long-term protection of the site. The SSSI appears to have been included to assist the developer in increasing the biodiversity of the site merely by acquiring land already managed for diversity.
  1. The Height of the Solar Panels
    The proposed site was originally tidal saltings and is a Category 3a Rising sea levels and more violent weather events both threaten the site. As a consequence, if construction were to go ahead, the developer has said the panels need to be ‘around’ 4 metres high, just short of the height of a double-decker bus.* This would be a severe detriment to the amenity value of the marshes to all those local people and visitors who use them. 

The industrial landscape created by the panels will also be completely visible from viewpoints such as Graveney Hill and Graveney Church, from Oare village, from the Isle of Sheppey and from all vantage points around Estuary View just to the south of Whitstable.  On the lower ground, the Society questions the developer’s assertion that the panels will not be visible above the sea wall.   This hides the panels’ effect on the amenity value of the Saxon Shore Way, shortly to become part of the Coastal Path, because this path runs atop the wall, not on the shoreline below. Even so, the panels will be visible above the seawall when walking towards Nagden Cottages from Faversham on the east side of the Creek and from Faversham to Hollow Shore on the west side of Faversham Creek – including the views from Oare Nature Reserve at Harty Ferry.

  1. Archaeology
    The Historic Environment Desk Based Assessment commissioned by the developer reveals that the site and its immediate environs make an important contribution to the historical and cultural setting of the town and that the creation of a large power station – albeit solar – would ignore Faversham’s historical importance and compromise the setting of the town and its neighbouring villages to the north, Graveney and Goodnestone. We have evidence of medieval saltings and of a historically significant duck shoot that would be obliterated by the panels. We have seen no assessment of the damage to the archaeology of the area covered by the site.
  2. Noise and Disruption
    If developers are forced to halt work over each summer’s bird nesting season and to avoid disturbing overwintering birds, it is likely that the work will be spread over perhaps three or four years. This means that for residents close to the site and those living on or using the roads leading to it, there will be unacceptable noise and disturbance caused by construction traffic to and from the site over a long period.

The Faversham Society is also concerned about the level of disruption that will continue during the normal running of the power station. Although there is some technical detail, we have seen little intelligible analysis about the cumulative level of noise generated by the inverters, transformers, battery packs and other elements of the energy production process.

Neither is there a convincing presentation about the level of, noise, light and air quality pollution caused during the construction phase.

  1. Access and Traffic
    This is a very large site that would not only be covered with new solar installations but would also require substantial works to provide the roads, new ditches and the electrical plant – including a substantial compound for battery storage. The Faversham Society is concerned that the roads to the site, in particular, Head Hill Road and Seasalter Road are not suitable for the weight and frequency of traffic required to transport such a high volume of materials and equipment to the site.  We are unclear about future responsibilities for road maintenance, repair and general restitution.

 The developers have provided no information about the level of traffic to be expected nor any modelling on the effect that this will have not only on roads leading to and from the site but those in the wider area such as the M2, the A2 and the Thanet Way.  Society members know that it only takes a little extra traffic or a small accident to reduce the entire local road network to a standstill.

  1. Wildlife
    Although the noise and disturbance is a cause of anxiety for residents and the loss of amenity value distressing for those all who currently use the marshes, there is a much more serious and detrimental impact on wildlife. Construction of roads and excavation of ditches, the creation of culverts, clearing of the ground by removing plants and topsoil and installation of equipment would result in the whole site being unavailable as nesting habitat for ground-nesting birds nor as a feeding /foraging habitat for birds, bats and other animals and insects over a long period.

The site forms part of the North Kent Marshes Environmentally Sensitive Area. It is also directly adjacent to the Swale Ramsar site which is designated because it has an important assemblage of bird and plant species.  The site will also affect the Swale Special Protection Area and the Swale Site of Special Scientific Interest, the South Swale Nature Reserve and the Swale Estuary Marine Conservation Area and on the opposite side of Faversham Creek, the Oare Marshes Nature Reserve managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust.

Source: www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/campaigns/planning-and-development/cleve-hill-solar-park

The Faversham Society’s initial analysis suggests there should be particular concerns about the following species:

 

Brent geese, lapwing and

golden plover

Natural England has identified the marshes as important wintering sites for these species.
Avocet, Wigeon, Dunlin, Redshank, Shelduck, Teal, Little Egret, Grey Plover,  Knot, Ruff, Black Tailed Godwit, Bar Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Short Eared Owls, Hobby and Peregrine Falcons These marshes represent for these species nationally significant habitats that would be detrimental to the populations if lost. The birds use many parts of the site, not only the western end.

There are breeding birds such as skylarks, dunnocks and yellow wagtails together with reed buntings, oystercatcher and lapwings nesting all over the site. Most of these are ground-nesting birds and rely on insects found in the existing vegetation to feed their young.

 

Marsh Harriers Functionally linked to Ramsar site for breeding
Water Voles and reptiles Natural England has pointed to the need to address the impact on these protected species
Rare Invertebrates The marshes provide habitat for over 30 species of rare and scarce species of species of beetle, bugs, flies, bees and planthoppers which are either of regional or national significance
Bats Species Nine species of bat are present on the marsh including soprano pipistrelles, common pipistrelles, noctules and Daubenton’s bats

 

The developers propose to preserve and improve a small part of the marsh at the eastern end of the site specifically for Brent geese, lapwing and golden plover. (It is worth noting that this includes the additional area within the SSSI to the east of the site proposed in the original scheme.) The Faversham Society considers that this gesture would not compensate for the loss of wildlife habitat across the whole site and cannot be considered mitigation for this wider destruction of habitat.

The Society notes that a recent European Court of Justice ruling regarding Habitats Regulation Assessment suggests that a full ‘appropriate assessment’ will have to be completed to prove that there is no harm to the Swale Special Protection Area beyond reasonable scientific doubt for the scheme to be acceptable.

  1. Soil and Soil Erosion
    Developers propose to create what they have called ‘grazing land’ under the panels with a mix of grasses and wildflower They propose the grazing of sheep. Even if this were to prove possible, such plans are less than adequate compensation for the loss of such a large, grazing marsh so productive of wildlife.

The solar panels will prevent the soil from absorbing rainwater and will concentrate the flows so that rainwater will cascade onto the ground, causing soil erosions and general degradation. Moreover, the Society has yet to be assured that the ground beneath the panels will have sufficient sunlight to permit much vegetation and therefore animal life beneath the canopy of panels. We have seen no evidence to allay our fear that a ‘desert’ will be created over a very large area. Comparison with other solar panel sites is of little relevance because of the size, height and density of panels proposed for Cleve Hill.

  1. Landscape, Amenity and Economic Value
    The site forms part of a Kent Area of High Landscape Value and a Swale Area of High Landscape Value. The site is visible from long distances including Wraik Hill on the A299 at Whitstable, from Estuary View, from Boughton Hill on the A2 and from Oare village to the west of Faversham Creek – all which have extensive views encompassing the whole marsh, grazing land, fruit farms and orchards. It is an area of high amenity and economic value. However, the developer’s intentions will completely change this view of open arable and wildlife marshland to a landscape with column after parallel column of dark panels stretching into the distance from almost every point of view.

The extent of this change is hidden because of the photograph viewpoints that the developers have included in their promotional material for the public to assess the full impact of the proposal.  Those images chosen by the developers suggest that the panels will only be seen when people are close to them rather than showing the more important views of the middle and long distance.  We believe that a 3D computer model allowing the public to ‘see’ the site from all viewpoints would allow a more realistic assessment of impact.

The size of the site and the multiple points from which the panels and other site infrastructure will be visible will change the character of what has been a huge, open area of grazing and arable marshland into a heavily industrialized and developed landscape. This will create a loss of inestimable value to visitors and to local people, not just in the immediate future but for generations.

This will have a knock-on effect on the local economy.  The Faversham and Graveney Marshes ‘brand’ attracts a large number of visitors – whether interested in history, marine life, birds or general recreational walking – to this part of Swale. Although developers assert that for Kent the impact will be negligible, we have seen no analysis of the short and longer economic impact the development will have on Faversham and the businesses that support and service our visitors.

  1. Footpaths
    The entire footpath through the site from Nagden Cottage to the seawall near Castle Coote, would – if the development goes ahead as proposed  – run between lines of solar panels 4 metres high making it impossible for walkers to see over them. Any additional permissive paths provided as part of the development would have similarly stark industrial views.

As we have noted above, the Saxon Shore Way runs along the top of the seawall, and so any walker from Faversham to Seasalter would start by looking along the parallel ranks of solar panels and then as they turn east looking over row after row of panels stretching east to west to the back of the marsh. The monotony would only be relieved as walkers passed gaps for the spine road and the drainage ditches. At the eastern end of the site, walkers’ next view would be the battery compound and sub-station across the grazing marsh.  Walking the Saxon Shore Way from the Seasalter Road end, there would be views of the sub-station and other works and across the marsh towards the solar panels extending to the sea wall. New security fencing and surveillance is also expected to be installed along all footpaths which would add to the unsightliness and serve to intensify the hostile industrialised atmosphere across the marshes. The character of all of these well established and much-used footpaths that are part of the Saxon Shore Way would be changed beyond recognition. On a more detailed point, we would want to be assured that the footpath across the site from Nagden to Castle Coote would remain open during the construction phase.

The Faversham Society considers that the detrimental impact on the amenity of users of the footpaths both through and around the Cleve Hill Power Station would be unacceptable both in the short term during building works and in the longer term once the panels were connected to the grid and battery storage was installed.

  1. Identification and Mitigation of Long-Term Risks
    There are two questions about which the Society, local elected representatives and in time the wider public will need more assurance. Our first concern is the business assumptions on which the development is based. As we have seen recently with the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon scheme, huge developments like the Cleve Hill Power Station are highly dependent on the demand for and the pricing of electricity over the long term.   We believe the assumptions made by the developers about this should be made public. We want to know how sensitive those assumptions are to national and global shifts in the energy market over what timescale.

We also want to know what account developers have made for the growing acceptance that the days of old national grid-based approaches to energy production and supply are numbered because they will be supplanted by the much more cost-effective and environmentally ‘green’,  distributed  generation,

 This vulnerability to national and global events over the long term leads to our second major concern.  If the site ceases to be economically viable – and most especially if the developer’s company fails and goes into administration – who will be responsible for decommissioning the plant and restoring the marshes to their original condition? Without explicit reassurances and guarantees from developers and planning authorities, the risk of having a very large and redundant industrial plant covering such a large area would be unacceptable to the Faversham Society, to the public at large and most likely to their elected representatives.

We are concerned that there has been no information about the public health and security risks associated with the development.  We understand it is proposed to construct the largest battery in the world covering ground equal to that of 15 football pitches. We would like to know about the environmental risks of fire and/or explosion and what arrangements will be made to mitigate the effects. It may surprise developers to learn that the people of Faversham and their elected representatives are particularly sensitive to the risk of large industrial explosions and the social, economic and environmental damage they wreak.

  1. Alternatives Sites

There are numerous alternative brownfield sites – even in this corner of the country. Kingsnorth and the Hoo Peninsular are obvious candidates.  The Faversham Society needs clarification about why the Cleve Hill site has been chosen above others.  If – as has widely been rumoured – it is attractive to developers solely because of the spare capacity on an existing and underused national grid connection, we do not believe that this is sufficient justification for the devastation which such a large – albeit solar – power station will create.

 We also understand that although there can be economies of scale with other forms of energy production, this is not the case for solar energy since solar technology (panels and batteries) can be scaled incrementally, having numbers of smaller sites would deliver much the same returns. We would like to see the differences in long-term viability between a far less intrusive multi-site model and the single site devastation that is being proposed for Cleve Hill and the surrounding marshes.

 Losses and Benefits

As we have made clear, this unprecedentedly large solar power station will have a profound negative impact on the people that live in Faversham and the surrounding villages.  Although it is these local people who will suffer the losses if this development goes ahead, it appears that as currently conceived, it provides no direct benefit for them either in the short or long term.

That lack of attention to what in other large development schemes would be known as ‘planning gain’, demonstrates the lack of regard or concern that developers and builders of the Cleve Hill solar power station have for the interests of the people of Faversham and the surrounding villages.

The Faversham Society’s response to Phase 2 of the statutory consultation

The full response can be viewed in PDF format here

*The new London Routemaster is 4.38m high

The Kent Wildlife Trust view is here
CPRE

British salt marshes ‘to disappear’ as sea levels rise

Save Graveney Marshes

Helen Whately

Planning Inspectorate  Cleve Hill

Phase Two community consultation for Cleve Hill Solar Park

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you to inform you of our upcoming Phase Two community consultation for Cleve Hill Solar Park, to update you on how our proposals have developed and to invite your feedback on this. Please see the enclosed Community Consultation Leaflet for the latest information and details of our consultation process.

Our formal Phase Two community consultation will begin on Thursday 31 May 2018 and end on Friday 13 July 2018.

In this consultation leaflet, we would like to draw your attention to the Phase Two consultation event dates. These are as follows:

  • Wednesday 13 June from 4.30pm to 7.30pm at Ferry House Inn, Harty Ferry Road, Harty, ME12 4BQ
  • Thursday 14 June from 1.30pm to 8pm at Graveney Village Hall, Graveney, Faversham, ME13 9DN
  • Friday 15 June from 11am to 4pm at Seasalter Christian Centre, Seasalter, Faversham Road, Whitstable, CT5 4AX
  • Saturday 16 June from 11am to 5.30pm at Faversham Guildhall, 8 Market Place, Faversham, ME13 7AG

Our consultation events will give you the opportunity to view our full suite of consultation materials on the detailed proposals for Cleve Hill Solar Park. These consultation materials will include:

  • Copies of our Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR) on display
  • Copies of our non-technical PEIR to take away
  • Display boards of the latest project information
  • Photomontages showing visualisations of the proposals from various viewpoints
  • Plans for improved local amenities including additional permissive pathways and a community orchard

All of our consultation materials will also be available to access online via our website: www.clevehillsolar.com from 31 May. Further, from 31 May you can also view the consultation materials at our Community Access Points (CAP sites), details of which are on our website.

When you have had the opportunity to view our full suite of materials, we’d encourage you to complete our feedback form which will be available to complete from this link from 31 May 2018. Please note the deadline for feedback is Friday 13 July 2018.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the project team at the details below.

Kind regards,

Hugh Brennan

Managing Director

For and on behalf of Cleve Hill Solar Park Ltd

Freepost: Cleve Hill Solar

T: 0800 328 2850

E: info@clevehillsolar.com

W: www.clevehillsolar.com