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We have heard from the Planning Officer this week that Green Switch have finally submitted more information to Ashford Borough Council and that the Council intend to go out to the statutory 30 day Consultation, possibly as early as 5th October. This would mean we will have until the 3rd November to submit further objections in light of Green Switch's comments!


As before, you will be receiving notification by post and planning notices will appear around the village again.


We have already started looking through the further documents and once we have established what the changes are we will hold another meeting in order to update you.


We urge you to read particularly the document called 'Supplementary Planning Report' and the relevant appendices which can be found on the planning portal and this link: Planning Application: PA/2022/2415


From first glances at the documents, it looks as though the Connection to the Grid will extend west from the site along Lower Lees Road, along Long Hill, then north-west along the New Cut, to the point of connection to the west of New Cut Road to the existing power line. We are sure we don't need to remind you that this is the route of the North Downs Way and will disrupt the lives of residents living along these lanes!


We will be in touch soon but just wanted to give you prior warning of what to expect.


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It feels like a long time since we were busy preparing and making our objections prior to the deadline in January. Sadly there hasn't been much to update since with several planning committee meetings cancelled and the most recent agenda not considering the North Court application.


However, Old Wives Lees has been in the National News – Why we must protect The North Downs Way


One of the reasons that SOWLIS and many others have objected to the planning application for the proposed siting of a Solar Farm at North Court Farm in Old Wives Lees is the consequential harm to the visual landscape in general and to the North Downs Way in particular. The North Downs Way is a historic route of 153 miles, stretching from Surrey to Dover and running directly through Old Wives Lees; up Long Hill, along Lower Lees Road and then through open farmland included in the planning application for the proposed solar farm. If successful, this will have a negative impact on a key tourist and recreational route celebrated for glorious views across open Kent countryside and internationally renowned for its’ wonderful views and the opportunity to find peace, tranquillity and transformation from nature.


We are therefore delighted that these unique and special views from the North Downs Way in Old Wives Lees have been celebrated and chosen as the site for one of only nine works of public art that are carefully positioned along the North Downs Way as part of the North Downs Way Art Trail, allowing walkers and riders to pause and soak up the scenery and local history.


Feel our Voice’ by Kezia Cole is a beautiful bench constructed from old and recycled apple bins from Rickards Farms and sited on the North Downs Way on top of the hill (locally called Moons Bank) at Lower Ensden, Old Wives Lees. Views have been described as:


Picture Postcard rural Kent with Orchards and Oast houses and views across the Stour Valley as you head towards Canterbury’


Why not come and see for yourself?


The importance of the North Kent Downs to the local rural economy has also generated interest within the national press. Moons Bank in Old Wives Lees has appeared in a Guardian Article on 11 April 2023 that explores experiential tourism along the North Kent Downs. Experiential tourism gives visitors the opportunity to actively take part in sustainable low impact nature-based tourism experiences and allows individuals and small rural businesses to develop and provide those experiences. Visit Kent and the North Downs Way are working together to help businesses, organisations and individuals to develop sustainable rural tourism experiences in the Kent Downs AONB and along the North Downs Way, bringing visitors all year round. Old Wives Lees plays a key role in this investment to grow the tourism industry and benefit the local economy.



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Following extensive review from a number of people, further research and consultation with experts, SOWLIS has now prepared and submitted their response to the planning application for the solar installation at North Court Farm.


This is formed of a number of key documents that have all been submitted to Ashford Borough Council and should be available on the planning portal shortly:


Letter of Objection

SOWLIS Letter of Objection to PA 2022 2415 North Court Solar Farm Old Wives Lees 15 Decem
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Download • 432KB

Expert reports commissioned by SOWLIS:​

Noise​

2227819 - Noise impact assessment for North Court Fruit Solar Farm (final)(503068.4)
.pdf
Download PDF • 338KB

Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA)

12264 North Court Solar Farm - LVIA Review Final_
.pdf
Download PDF • 383KB

Councillor briefing note​

Councillor Briefing Note SOWLIS Objection North Court Solar Farm PA 2022 2415 December 202
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Download • 1.97MB

We recommend that you review and digest these documents when preparing your objections.


Our sincere thanks go to all those who have been involved and contributed the many hours spent reviewing, researching and preparing the response. We look forward to this receiving due consideration as part of the review of the application.


If you have any questions or additional information, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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