Borough Councillor Report July 2020

It has been a busy few month since our last report. During the lockdown Swale Borough Council has taken on major new areas of work; setting up and running the community support hubs, and processing the distribution of millions of pounds worth of government grants. Lockdown has also seen a surge in demand for temporary housing. We are pleased that Swale has kept the waste, recycling and garden bin collections going in very difficult circumstances. There was just one collection of garden waste suspended, and all subscribers will receive a free one-month extension to their service. Throughout lockdown we have been collecting levels of waste and recycling normally only seen at Christmas. This has caused some delays as the vehicles have to return to the depot to unload more frequently. At the same time, like most other organisations, the council has adapted to working on-line. Following changes in the law, meetings, such as Planning Committee, are being held on-line. Next week we have our first virtual Annual Council meeting, when the new mayor of Swale, Paul Stephens, will start his term of office.

At the end of May we heard the extremely disappointing news that the Cleve Hill Solar Power Station has been given consent by the Conservative government. Although the council understands the need to generate renewable energy at scale, it is equally important to protect our very few remaining wild places. Swale Borough Council sought legal advice on the prospect of overturning the decision at judicial review, but were advised that there are no grounds to challenge the decision.

The developer must submit proposals to Swale Borough Council for management plans for battery safety, landscape & biodiversity, public rights of way, fencing, drainage, archaeology, construction (environmental, traffic and noise), protected species, operational noise, local skills, supply chain & employment, decommissioning & restoration, and managed realignment. The council is required to consult some official bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive, Kent Fire and Rescue, Natural England and Kent County Council. The council will go beyond the minimum required by consulting local community groups, such as Graveney and Goodnestone Parish Council, Faversham Town Council, Graveney Rural Environment Action Team (GREAT), the Faversham Society, CPRE and Kent Wildlife Trust.

Although the development will go ahead, there is still a lot that local people can do to influence the final proposals and reduce the negative impact as much as possible. We hope all interested parties will engage with the consultations and make the development the best it can be.

Alastair Gould (alastair.gould@swale.gov.uk)

Tim Valentine (tim.valentine@swale.gov.uk) 07752 191807

Swale Borough Councillors for Boughton & Courtenay.

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