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British government approves large solar farm

A British solar park would pale the number of those found on a typical rooftop. Photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock
A British solar park would pale the number of those found on a typical rooftop. Photo by Craig Russell/Shutterstock

May 29 (UPI) -- The British government approved plans for an 880,000-panel solar park north of Kent, which would make it one of the largest in Europe and causing a divide among environmental groups.

Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy is putting $555 million into the Cleve Hill Solar Park that will power some 91,000 homes. The park is located near the towns of Faversham and Whitstable.

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Government officials on Thursday said the massive wind farm will help Britain reach its goal of zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 along with removing coal as an energy source by 2025. The companies said the solar park will be online by 2022.

"Our belief is that renewable energy generation is the most important thing that is going to happen to our planet over the next 50 years," Hive Energy's Chief Executive Giles Redpath said.

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"Solar energy is unique. It has the power to transform the world. We are proud to lead the way, together with our partners at Wirsol, to deliver [Britain's] largest solar park."

Greenpeace, RSPB Wildlife Charity and the Campaign to Protect Rural England all came out against the solar park project, arguing that such a massive project could hurt local wildlife.

Friends of the Earth, another environmentalist group, embraced the project, saying it is situated on existing farmland unsuitable for most wildlife.

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While Britain had started to pull back on subsidizing solar panels, their costs have fallen by two-thirds since 2010.

Energy Secretary Alok Sharma applauded the decision, saying that it could make Britain one of the world leaders in solar and power storage.

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