Four years on from our campaign to Save Graveney Marshes, concerns about Cleve Hill Solar Park haven't gone away.
Back in 2019 local residents and I fought this development all the way, even taking the fight to Parliament where we secured a debate in the House of Commons. Ultimately - despite the brilliant work of local campaigners - we lost the argument, and in the years since my focus has switched to trying to make sure the development works best for local residents.
I've met the developers several times since then, pressing them on issues from habitat loss to traffic management, as well as benefits for the local community. The one area where they hadn't yet provided an answer was their Battery Safety Management Plan - a condition of planning permission which says how the risks of the site are going to be minimised and managed.
They've been working on this plan with input from stakeholders including Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and last week it was published to huge concern from residents. People locally don't think it's anywhere near sufficient, and believe that there's a material risk to the local area.
As the local authority it's up to Swale Borough Council to judge the Plan, but I’ve written to the fire minister to raise residents’ concerns at a national level.
If it's built Cleve Hill would be the largest solar park in the UK, and the battery being used is like nothing we've seen before. I think a nationally significant infrastructure project like this needs some input from government over the safety assurances.
Unless we get the right assurances that it's safe, there’s no way it should go ahead.