Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone & the Weald, recently visited the Great Pagehurst Farm in Staplehurst, where Vogt Solar Ltd are planning to build an industrial solar power station across 53 acres of land.
Helen has been working extensively to oppose this development since July 2013 when it was first brought to her attention by local residents, husband and wife, Patrick & Shirley Roche. At that time she wrote to both Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council to protect the interests of local people who fear this will damage the rural aesthetics of the village.
As a nation the UK is committed to meeting 15 per cent of its energy demands from renewable sources by 2020 and solar energy will certainly play a central role in this. However this cannot be achieved whilst sacrificing our countryside. Following Helen's letter to Kris Hopkins, Minister for Local Government, the Government has made it clear that they want to move the emphasis away from large solar farms and instead focus the solar market on south facing rooftops across the country.
The Government discourages landowners from constructing solar farms on the best and most versatile agricultural land, and from January 2015 has withdrawn farm subsidies from land occupied by solar farms.
"The area concerned is a beautiful location – there are residential properties 100 metres away from the proposed site. The need for renewable energy should not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities."
"I am working with the local Councillors and residents in this area and I am confident we have a strong voice for action"
Mrs Grant will be strongly urging Maidstone Borough Council & Vogt Solar to listen carefully to the planning concerns of local people. As well as this, she will be conducting a MP Outreach Survey shortly to sample the opinion of local residents.
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