Counter Context – a PR and Communications firm based in Sheffield and London – was part of the successful delivery team to achieve planning consent for the UKs largest solar park.

The Cleve Hill Solar Park team, together with developers Hive Energy Ltd and Wirsol Energy Ltd, celebrated a significant milestone by receiving the go-ahead from ministers for the UKs first nationally significant solar park project.

On Thursday 28 May, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Alok Sharma granted development consent for the UKs largest solar scheme – Cleve Hill Solar Park.

Located on the North Kent Coast, the £450 million joint venture between Hive Energy Ltd. and Wirsol Energy Ltd., will produce 350MW with the potential to power over 91,000 homes with clean energy. Once complete, the project will help cut the UK’s carbon emissions by 68,000 tonnes per year – providing a major contribution to the UK’s plans to build a carbon neutral economy by 2050.

The project will not require any Government subsidies and aims to be one of the lowest cost generators of electricity in the UK.

Since 2017, Counter Context has been an integral part of the small, consultant-led project team, which also included international law firm Pinsent Masons and planning consultancy Arcus. Counter Context’s dedicated energy division managed all aspects of the public consultation, stakeholder engagement and wider communications programme.

Emily Marshall, a Director at Counter Context, said: “Since 2017 we have been an embedded member of the core Cleve Hill team, applying our expertise in both renewable energy technologies and stakeholder engagement strategies to advise the project to engage early. We delivered a multi-phased consultation that enabled us to listen, understand and respond to all feedback from local stakeholders.

“Our robust and proactive approach enabled us to develop strong and open relationships with key local stakeholders and the public – including local and national nature conservation bodies. Our communications highlighted the national need for the green energy scheme whilst respecting the wide range of local viewpoints. In total, over 900 local residents engaged with us across two rounds of consultation.

“We are delighted with the decision from Alok Sharma to grant the scheme and I am extremely proud of the hard work our team has put in to support the project.”