Public consultation over solar farm plan on Manston agricultural land

Solar farm proposal

A  public consultation will be held next week to share plans for 41.55 hectares of agricultural land in Manston to be used for a solar farm.

Industria Solar Hengrove Ltd proposes to install a solar farm on land at Hengrove Farm. The proposal consists of two separate agricultural parcels totalling 41.55 hectares, interconnected via an existing farm track.

Industria says the proposed development would be capable of generating up to 30MW (Megawatt) of renewable electricity and would be operational for 40 years, after which the site would be returned to full agricultural use.

The firm says the energy supply would be enough to meet the needs of around 9,458 homes every year and save approximately 6,114 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

On a consultation page Industria says: “Our design seeks to minimise the scheme’s impact on our neighbours and the environment within and outside the site. Existing and proposed trees and hedgerows will help screen the solar farm from view, while quiet and safe state-of-the-art technology would help protect local amenity, including that of public right of way users.”

The proposals include substations and a workshop building

To transfer the electricity to the local distribution network, a transformer would be connected to the national grid DNO (District Network Operator) substation which contains switchgear, isolation, and metering equipment.

The site’s substation, the DNO’s substation and the workshop building would be painted in a recessive green colour to help them appear less visible within the landscape.

Traffic generation during the operational phase would be limited to approximately one 4×4 vehicle a month to enable an engineer to carry out periodic maintenance checks. no external lighting is proposed.

The construction and operational access to the solar farm would be via Manston Road. This is currently a farm access.

A deer fence would be installed on the inside of the hedgerows – this is instead of using an industrial looking security fence. Mammal gates will be located across the perimeter at regular intervals to allow for the free movement of local wildlife.

The firm says its proposals include planting 2.6 miles of native species hedgerow, 0.5 miles of new woodland belt, a new wildlife pond, and four acres of cereal crop habitat for corn bunting. A wildflower meadow would be seeded beneath and around the solar arrays to the benefit of pollinators, insects, and birds.

The hedgerows are proposed to be planted around each field parcel and the woodland belt, 10m wide, is proposed on the north east and north west boundaries of the eastern land parcel..

Each field would be seeded with a local wildflower mix and the wildlife pond would be along the eastern corner of the solar farm

No Public Rights of Way would need to be closed either during construction or during operation of the solar farm.

A Community Benefit Fund is also being proposed. If the project was to become operational, Industria says it would put forward a contribution of £85,000 towards Manston Parish Council, with the aim of funding projects in the local community.

This fund has not yet been discussed or agreed with Manston Parish Council.

Industria Solar Hengrove Ltd is part of Industria Brand Energy Ltd – a renewable energy development company that works with landowners around the UK. The site would be leased long-term to Industria Solar Hengrove Ltd, guaranteeing the landowner a  long-term form of income at a time of spiralling food production costs.

Industria says this would provide financial support to continue producing locally grown food from within the landholding.

The solar energy produced is either transferred directly to the National Grid or sent direct to some of the UK’s largest companies.

Industria says: “In the past 24 months, our energy portfolio has produced enough to power 140,000 homes, saving 500,000 tons of CO2. By proposing schemes such as Hengrove Solar Farm, we continue to play a major role in the fight against climate change by contributing positively towards a low carbon future, while creating the habitats that local wildlife needs to thrive again.”

The Industria website says land rental agreements result in a £1.5m upfront payment ‘based on a compliant solar farm’ and the creation of 100+ jobs during the construction phase.

The firm is seeking views before it submits a planning application to Thanet District Council in mid-August.

An in-person consultation event will take place on Thursday 20 July between  4pm and 7pm at Manston Village Hall, Preston Road, Manston.

An online consultation is currently running and can be found here

Solar panel technology

A solar panel, also known as a photovoltaic panel (PV panel), consists of many cells made from layers of semi-conducting material, most commonly silicon. A flow of renewable electricity is created when the PV panels receive sunlight. The cells do not need direct sunlight to work and can work on cloudy days. An inverter then converts the energy from the solar cells into electricity.

A row of solar panels is also known as a solar array. The types of solar panels being proposed for the Manston site are bifacial, meaning they also absorb light reflected onto the underside of the array. This makes them more efficient than conventional arrays and therefore require less land. Bifacial panels also allow wildflower meadows to thrive beneath them as any excess light shines through the panels onto the ground beneath.


  1. The amount of these popping up all over the countryside – the earth is going to look like one of those 1970’s mirrored disco balls, from space.

  2. The land can still be used simultaneously for grazing sheep.
    It can produce electricity, food & wool.
    Win, win.

  3. I see a program recently about solar panels .They have a life span of 25 years then they have to be changed. But there is no company out there currently to dismantle these panels and recycle the parts . When you see the size of some of these fields there’s a lot of panels to be dispose of.

    • In the meanwhile, the scheme will save over 6000 tonnes of CO2 a year. That’s 240,000 tonnes over the life time of the scheme. Meanwhile, the land could be used to graze sheep.
      If we insist on the profligate use of energy to support our hi-tec lifestyles, then we’ve got to produce it somehow. And I think everyone other than a handful of very curious people accepts that fossil fuel is not the way forward.

      • The scheme will reduce annual global co2 by about 0.00017% , that’s before trying to account for any possible increased co2 production for replacing the lands previous production capacity. Sheep could be grazed under the panels but is there any commitment to do so? We get endless bleating about agricultural land being lost to housing, this scheme removes 110 ish acres at a time of food insecurity, but silence whistles in the wind. No doubt it’ll be rubber stamped as tdc declared a climate emergency and it is a nice piece of virtue signalling. Will there be a net loss or gain in terms of local employment?

    • Supachip, a quick Google would have led you to a lot of information about companies currently recycling panels. However since they last 25 years and have only been in major production for the last 15 there’s still a while before recycling is needed. There’s also a strong second-hand market as solar farms replace their panels with more efficient ones, the old ones with many more years left are sold for homeowners, farmers and factories to install. You can pick up a good solar panel for around £100.

    • There’s actually acres of land there that (with or without aircraft flying) could be used for solar panel installation.

    • The applicant is a company with its own land from which it wishes to generate income.
      How is the applicant going to profit from panels elsewhere?🙄

  4. The French build solar panels over car parks much cleverer, parked cars are kept cool and the land is useless otherwise, a win, win.

  5. A lot of electrical energy is lost just by moving it along wires.
    The further it has to travel, the more is lost.
    But East Kent is looking at two huge solar farms being built locally, this one at Manston, and the 180 acre development proposed for Ash Levels.
    But ,despite recent excessive house-building, this area is NOT the place that presents the greatest demand for energy. The big cities, such as London, are the greatest users of energy. NOT relatively sparsely-populated places like East Kent.
    Yet, because land here is cheaper than land around London, Birmingham, Manchester etc we end up with housing estates and solar farms that are actually serving the big cities.
    I agree that the UK needs MORE Solar panels and MORE windfarms and that both of these are visually better looking than oil fields and coal mines. And less polluting.
    But the actual location of these sites needs discussion as well.
    We had no choice as to where oilfields or coal mines were placed.They had to go where the fuel was to be extracted.
    But solar and wind farms can go almost anywhere . So we can choose. And I suspect that we would not choose to put them in sparsely-populated rural areas.
    Today, in France, a country run by a feeble,”middle-of-the-road ” sort of government ,they can still take bolder initiatives than our own current government. In that country, any new or existing car-park with over 80 spaces has to, by law, install solar panels on metal supports ,over at least half of the spaces.
    We have such car parks at QEQM and Westwood and, I suspect, a lot of other places around Thanet. So why build them on the green and pleasant countryside?

    • We used to locate power stations near the coal fields of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire (and Kent, too) because that was the most convenient place to build them.
      Line loss was (and is) reduced by transmitting the electricity at very high voltages, because the losses are proportional to the square of the current . The higher the voltage, the lower the current and therefore the lower the losses.

    • Keefogs check your facts. Transmission losses are around 1.7%, That’s not a lot. Distributing gas, oil and petrol costs more. The bigger losses are distribution, around 5-8%; that’s the connection from the substation to the consumer that, because it’s much lower voltage (and therefore higher current), has more loss. so the location is not terribly relevant. Thanet scores highly because of its high level of sunshine and low rainfall. And regarding France, remember they have the same population as the UK but in a 4x larger country – that gives them all sorts of options that we don’t have.

  6. Dunno why they don’t cover all the deserts with them – they would get 100% output from the panels there, where here in the UK you will be lucky to get 10% in winter – the amount of money they cost to install it will take 15 years to break even – they are far to hyped up here in the UK by the ‘save the planet’ mob, as for all the stats you read they are totally exaggerated by the manufactures passed on to the know nots who in turn suck it all up and help promote them.

    • There was an E.U. initiative for that. It was trying to create a Union for the Mediterranean, incorporating all the Mediterranean countries. Papers had all been signed and Algeria & Libya were going to be massive solar farms, using focussed mirrors.
      Unfortunately, Washington didn’t like Gaddafi selling oil in dinar.
      The rest is history.🙄

    • The Central Scrutinizer, as I said to Keefogs check your facts. Average payback time on solar panels in the UK is around 7 years, and then you’ve got another 20 years plus of free electricity while electricity prices are going up. It’s the ‘burn the planet’ mob you should be concerned about. Oil and gas firms spending millions of pounds promoting lies about green energy while they kill the planet for the sake of profits for a rich few. Wake up and smell the coffee.

      • Don’t believe all you read Phil – those panels will need constant cleaning to work efficiently – also these big farms will need battery storage to work well and they will all need replacing in 7 years or so, that’s your profit wiped out – believe who you wanna believe the truth is out there.
        4-5 hours daylight in winter with cloud cover would just about boil your kettle to smell that coffee 🙂

        • Think about it this way – an array farm will produce the most kWh in the summer months when demand is at its least, without battery storage that will go strait into the national grid and lost – will they get paid for all that surplus wasted electricity? more than likely.
          Do we as the consumer benefit form it? no, the solar farm will get paid for this wasted electricity and that will push the price on to us.
          Thats why it is crucial to have battery storage, a domestic Powerplant 50kWh Smart Home Battery will cost £17,984 (ex. VAT) enough for one house and they have a limited life span – its just not cost affective enough if you do it right.
          Of course the manufactures and suppliers will totally disagree as will the government and the ‘save the planet mob’ and it’s all the pressure for a greener planet that drives it all.
          Most of the electronics in these systems will be imported from China and their carbon footprint is much to be desired.

    • The Central Scrutinizer, I was working on a project in Qatar, when asked if the buildings could be fitted with solar panels rather than simply glass, the architect (who was from New Yorke), said no they could not be installed as the sand during storms would act as an abrasive and they would not last long

  7. I didn’t see anything about what the land is used for now, anyone have any ideas? Seeing as many farms can’t get any more foreign labour since we left the EU, much produce is rotting in the ground, so yes, this is a better way forward I suppose.

  8. Solar panels are only 20/25 efficient so along way off really being value for recycling needs to be very much part of investment now and not in the future

    • Since sunshine is free, is doesn’t really matter how efficient the panel are.
      How efficient do you think a fossil-fuelled power station is?

  9. A big wind farm on Manston would be an advantage as it is the highest point in Thanet and gets plenty of natural wind, unlike Mr Windy the MP.

  10. what I would like to know is when the sun shines does it reflect on to airplanes!I know what its like when car windows reflect off the sun into my lounge window. I will never believe we should be using good growing farm land for anything other than for growing crops

  11. Prime agricultural land should be used solely for that purpose. Solar panels should be installed on every newly built residential and commercial property, no exceptions.

  12. Solar and wind not nearly reliable enough for a permanent solution we need to build nuclear power stations much more reliable and takes up half the space

  13. Solar and wind are not reliable enough we need to use nuclear power stations much more reliable and use a lot less space

    • I think you’ll find that nuclear power stations take up even less than that, when you compare Kw/m2
      The difficulty is that no-one on Earth knows what to do with the highly radioactive spent fuel rods, other than stack them in “swimming pools” of water, in the hope that one day, someone will come up with a solution.
      In the UK, wind is pretty reliable, and during the summer, so is solar.
      Improved battery technology would help.

      • Andrew as normal your comment is useless you seem to think you know the answer to everything but know very little you might actually want to look at what wind farm and solar actually produces then take into electric car usage solar and wind will never be enough nuclear is going to struggle to meet the needs that not even then looking at the infrastructure which would not cope and batteries are really not the answer

      • And what do they do with the blades from windfarms. I’m assuming you’ve seen what’s essentially mass graves for all the old ones? They can’t be recycled either. Wind and solar have their place. However, given current technologies and how we harness wind and solar power its most certainly not the answer for peoples way of life now, especially. I know you want everyone to roll back to primitive ways but that’s not happening.

  14. This is a very odd thread.
    The article is about a specific application made by a company relating solely to its land.
    Nothing to do with airports.
    Nothing to do with the pros and cons of “solar panels”.

  15. Cliff Richards says ‘Nothing to do with the pros and cons of “solar panels” – yet the header says ‘Public consultation over solar farm plan’ and at Manston where an airport is – Is that not an odd comment in itself?
    Hank come and sort him out! 🙂

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