Councillors defy officer recommendations and instead give green light for Hengrove solar farm

Solar farm site (Image Wardell Armstrong)

Councillors have rejected officer advice to refuse plans for a solar farm in Margate.

Instead the application to create a 30MW solar farm on land at Hengrove Farm will be deferred to council officers to approve subject to safeguarding and agreement over issues such as the mitigation for sky larks.

The solar farm off Shottendane Road will comprise two parcels of land, one bound by Manston Road and the other bound by Woodchurch Road.

The site is currently in arable agricultural use, producing a variety of crops.

Industria Solar Hengrove Ltd say the proposed 41.55 hectares  solar farm would be in operation for 40 years and provide enough energy to meet the annual needs of 9,458 homes.

The company says this saves approximately 6,114 tonnes of carbon emissions per year and would include planting of native species hedgerows, woodland belt, wildflower meadows, and a pond to attract wildlife. The plans state a 255% net biodiversity gain and a 422% increase in hedgerow and trees.

(Image Wardell Armstrong)

Planning officers at Thanet council had recommended the application be refused, saying it will: “result in substantial harm to the rural and unspoilt open character and distinctive landscape qualities of the countryside” and “would fail to secure adequate mitigation/compensatory habitat to offset the loss of farmland bird habitat, resulting in significant harm to biodiversity.”

The applicant highlighted Thanet council’s declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in July 2019 and aims to make the district carbon neutral by 2030.

Documents added: “Solar farms can be constructed quickly on land under just one or a few ownership titles, significantly boosting the renewable energy generated in the UK in the short term rather than relying on a large number of owners or associations to be in a position to consider roof-mounted panels, particularly in times of economic hardship.

“The temporary nature of large-scale solar farms allows to speed up the transition of UK domestic renewable energy sources whilst other sources, such as offshore wind farms, are enhanced or developed.

“The proposed solar farm would be operational for a temporary period of 40 years, after which it would be decommissioned, and the site restored to full agricultural use.

“During this period, the solar farm would generate 30MW of electricity every year. This is enough to power 9,458 homes annually and is the equivalent of offsetting 6,114 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.”

Most members of Thanet council’s planning committee were swayed by the green energy and biodiversity gains from the scheme, resulting in the decision to give it the green light subject to conditions.

The land is owned by farmer Jonathan Tapp, who said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the councillors on Thanet’s planning committee voted to approve the solar farm proposal for Hengrove Farm.

“Their decision represents a balanced, forward-looking approach that harmonises renewable energy needs with agricultural traditions.

“As a multi-generational farmer, I have deep roots and an abiding respect for this land. The solar installation preserves food production through integrated design allowing vegetation and grazing activities.

“ Just as critically, it provides long-term economic sustainability for our family farming operation amid rising costs and climate pressures.

“I’m grateful the committee recognised the solar farm as an opportunity to be responsible stewards – generating clean power, enhancing biodiversity, and ultimately preventing destructive over-development that could permanently concrete this farmland.

“Their vote encapsulates the innovative spirit of our community. We’re pioneering a new model that shows agriculture and renewables can co-exist synergistically for the benefit of all.

“Thanks to their wisdom, Hengrove Farm can help lead Thanet’s transition to a greener, more secure energy future while upholding our rich farming heritage.”

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, giving Mr Tapp a  long-term form of income. The land would be returned to agricultural use after the 40 year solar scheme.

17 Comments

  1. It’s still taking farmland away, no food will be grown on this land for 40 years plus ,it’s the same as building houses but with solar panels,
    NO FARMLAND NO FOOD ,when is the council going to get this into their thick HEADS

  2. Good news – bio diversity greatly enhanced and electricity produced without fossil fuels or nuclear waste. Thanet at last heading into 21st Century

  3. Should not be aloud we need this land for food, anyway what about the massive wind farm just off the Thanet coast that’s supposed to power Thanet. Anyway new homes should be built with solar panels on the roof as standard but then the electric suppliers will not get paid. He will make more ££ for solar than food production that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day

  4. Can maybe be a big producers of mushrooms as probably one of the only things that will grown in the dark under solar panels.

  5. Where is the outcry from Cllr Worrow? Or is Farmer Tapp ok to sell off prime agricultural land when it suits both of them either financially or politically?

  6. Thank you Thanet District councillor’s you corrupt pieces of dishonest filth! The grotesque wind farms that you’ve polluted out shoreline was bad enough you rotten scum!! All for the Climate Change hoax! These are the turkeys running our local council!

    • Anon – your command of English language is from the gutter? I suggest you take some lessons. Good job some of these Councillors do not know your surname or I could see litigation heading your way. We all have disagreements or views on various subjects/individuals but no need to resort to gutter speak.

      • There was an article on this site recently about the dwindling, biodiversity in Thanet. To see that they are going ahead despite the planning officers decision that it will destroy even more diversity is completely devastating! I should be litigating against them for the mental and emotional trauma of watching our local communities and environment being destroyed!

        I could give you a number weeks of examples over the years where TDC have been proven to dishonest and corrupted. The archive stories will be on here if you choose to read them.

  7. Home grown produce but who can afford it local farm shops charge way over supermarket prices for no better quality will soon be season for PYO another rip of season of summer fruits.
    Cover the land for 40 years and give it a holiday will still be there after we are long gone.

  8. Climate change is a hoax …look into CERN, looking to cloud seeding, look into weather modification, chem trailing now called “Geoengineering” They are currently “creating rain clouds” in Dubai – but people can’t wrap their head around the fact they can (and do) modify the weather across the world.

    The Climate Change hoax is a moneymaking scam

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