Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why solar? 

Solar farms contribute to Net Zero carbon emission targets, enable more energy to be generated domestically improving security of supply, and are the cheapest form of new electricity generation1, alongside other renewable technologies. This makes solar farms, like Chimmens, not just good for the environment but also for the consumer.  

More information about solar can be found on the Solar Energy UK site. 


Where would the solar farm be? 

Between  Horton Kirby and Fawkham, Sevenoaks. You can see the exact location of the proposed site under About the Project. 


How much electricity would it produce? 

The solar farm would be capable of producing up to 49.9 MW of electricityand if consented, this project would be capable of producing clean, green electricity for around 22,5002 homes every year.  


Why have you chosen this site? 

The site has been chosen as it has good solar irradiation levels and lies outside of any statutory environmental, archaeological and national landscape designations. Another key driver for the location of the project is its proximity to a viable grid connection, which is on the same site as the solar farm. Availability of sites across the UK with sufficient export capacity is diminishing, and the 132 kV overhead line crossing the site does have sufficient capacity. 


Have you made any changes since the consultation in July? 

The Chimmens project has been through a detailed design process, and we have taken into consideration feedback from the community and stakeholders, as well as the results of site surveys and assessments. This has resulted in a number of changes being made to the design to ensure the solar farm fits sensitively into the existing landscape whilst maximising the low carbon, low-cost electricity generation. The design changes made include: 

  • minimum 100m buffer between residential properties and solar infrastructure. A minimum 200m buffer has been achieved to the north west of the site; 
  • new native woodland screening on the northern boundary of the site and extensive new hedgerow planting throughout; and 
  • changes to inverter and storage locations to benefit from existing mature native hedgerows so that screening will take effect immediately. 

As well as appropriate setting back of the solar infrastructure, potential visibility of the solar farm would be reduced by existing trees and hedgerow and proposed new and infill native planting. As well as providing screening, the planting will provide wildlife corridors and vital resources for mammals, birds, and insect species.  


We already have a solar farm with planning consent in the local area  

Solar energy is now one of the most cost-effective ways to get the UK to net-zero carbon emissions and to improve security of supply. We appreciate not everyone is in favour of solar farms, however, a recent government survey has found that having been asked their views on the prospect of a solar farm being built in their local area, 81% of respondents said they would be very happy, fairly happy or would not mind. Only 3% were significantly opposed, while 8% felt that a solar farm would not be feasible locally.   

The planning application has been informed by a Landscape and Visual Assessment (LVA), and considers any potential cumulative impact from other developments nearby. The design utilises existing vegetation and includes extensive new planting to reduce potential visibility from local properties. 


What about the impacts on agricultural land? 

The solar farm would not pose a threat to food security. One of the biggest risks to food security is the changing climate. Already in 2023, we are seeing further effects of climate change. The UK's hottest June on record has caused unprecedented deaths of fish in rivers and disturbed insects and plants, and the world's average temperature reached a new high for the third time in a week. 

The solar farm will help towards tackling climate change and furthermore, is specifically designed to be dual purpose, enabling continued agricultural use, in the form of sheep grazing, and renewable generation. 

Agricultural land covers between 56% and 70% of UK land. Solar farms in the UK currently have a combined capacity of around 14GW which makes up just under 0.1% of land in the UK. By comparison, the total land used by the UK’s golf courses is 0.5% and airports is 0.2%. The UK Energy Security Strategy3 commits to increase the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity by up to 5 times by 2035. If the government meets its target of increasing solar capacity fivefold, ground-mounted solar would cover a total of around just 0.3% of the UK’s land surface which is still less than the total land used by the UK’s golf courses4.  

Sheep farming provides employment, supports rural economies and can produce a much more diverse ecological mosaic across the site. Landscapes managed by grazing sheep support a rich diversity of wildlife, while producing food. 

Furthermore, where a solar farm is installed on land which has been intensively farmed, it enables the ground underneath to recover, while providing income for the farming business.  

The majority of Chimmens Solar Farm is on Best and Most Versatile (BMV) land. Whilst the preference is to always develop on land not classified as BMV, development on BMV land may not be precluded when there is a lack of alternative sites at lower Grades across the district, with a viable grid connection. Solar farm development is also unlikely to lead to significant and irreversible long-term loss of BMV agricultural land. Indeed, the low intensity regime of a solar farm allows the regeneration of soil quality, ensuring the availability of high-quality agricultural acreage for the future. 

The planning application is also informed by an Agricultural Impact Assessment which considers the availability of agricultural resource in the local area, an analysis of the Agricultural Land Classification grading at Chimmens Solar Farm and the impact of diversifying the landowner’s business. There is a significant threat to farming practices across the UK due to the challenges caused by the changing climate, affecting the viability of some agricultural businesses. Projects like Chimmens Solar Farm can enable diversification of agricultural businesses whilst tackling the effects of climate change. 

The proposed Chimmens Solar Farm planning application is also supported by a Site Alternatives Study which concludes that the site is the most appropriate and viable site, in the local area, for connecting clean green renewable solar electricity to the grid.  


What happens when the solar farm reaches the end of its operational lifetime (40 years)? 

The solar farm does not contain any permanent infrastructure and is entirely reversible at the end of its operational lifetime and the land can returned to its previous use.  


What benefits would the solar farm deliver?

If consented, Chimmens Solar Farm would be capable of producing clean, green electricity for around 22,500 homes every year and save up to 15,0005 tonnes a year of CO2 compared to electricity generated from fossil fuels.

A Landscape Masterplan accompanies the planning application and provides detail on where existing vegetation is retained and where we are proposing significant increases in new native woodland, hedgerows and other ecological enhancements. Such measures will reduce potential visibility of the project as well as providing wildlife corridors and vital resources for mammals, birds, and insect species. The proposed landscape and ecological measures would deliver a biodiversity net gain of 45% in area habitats and a 39% net gain in hedgerow habitats.

RES is committed to ensuring that, wherever possible, local contractors and employees are used in all aspects of solar farm development. The major opportunities arise during the construction phase when suitably qualified local firms are often invited to bid for different aspects of construction. We encourage our contractors to source construction materials locally (i.e. within the county) and to use local transport and plant hire companies where possible, in addition to local services and amenities.

RES also believes that our renewable energy schemes should also provide meaningful benefits locally and we are inviting input from the local communities on their priority aims and projects in their area which the project may be able to support. Examples could include supporting community assets, apprenticeships, fuel poverty schemes, etc.


How can I find out more about any potential impacts of the solar farm? 

In addition to the information presented under About the Project, we have carried out the following assessments of potential impacts from the proposed solar farm: 

  • Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment; -  
  • Landscape and Visual Assessment (LVA); 
  • Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA); 
  • Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP); 
  • Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP); and 
  • Site specific information on Agricultural Land Classification. 

Further information can be found here.


What stage is the project at? 

We have submitted our planning application to Sevenoaks District Council. Further details can be found here. 


How can I have my say? 

The application can be viewed, and representations on the proposal submitted, on the Sevenoaks District Council website at: The planning reference is 23/03181/FUL. 

 A statutory consultation period will be advertised and held by Sevenoaks District Council to enable the public, as well as statutory consultees, to submit their comments on the proposal.  The closing date for comments is 18th January 2024 which takes into account the bank holidays over the Christmas period.  These comments will then be assessed against the proposal and a determination made in due course.  




2 The homes figure has been calculated by taking the predicted average annual electricity generation of the site and dividing this by the annual average electricity figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showing that the annual UK average domestic household consumption is 3,509 kWh (Dec 2022). 



5 Based on Carbon Trust conversion figures for UK Grid electricity of 0.19338 kg CO2e per kWh