Maxim was appointed by GH Dean & Co Ltd, the company behind the project, to assist with taking it through the planning system in Swale. The company has been farming locally for almost 100 years and chose to install the solar farm as part of diversification plans.
Oliver Doubleday, managing director at GH Dean, said: “Explaining the project to local residents and politicians was crucial, since vociferous opposition to such schemes can at best delay them, or indeed derail them.
“Maxim’s in-depth understanding of the issues and the personalities involved resulted in a comprehensive proactive programme of work that was exemplary.”
The project will provide enough clean, renewable energy to meet the needs of some 5,000 homes, offsetting the release of more than 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The power produced will be fed into the local electricity distribution network.
Philip Jones, director at Kent PR and public affairs agency Maxim, said: “Orchard Farm was a very enjoyable project to work on and getting a positive result was the icing on the cake for us.
“Public affairs and community engagement is very effective when carried out in the right manner. We have been working on energy projects – including on and offshore wind farms, power stations and waste to energy plants – for many years but this was our first solar success.”
Maxim’s work on the Orchard Farm project included: stakeholder mapping; setting up a project website and phone line; drafting and designing a leaflet and follow up newsletter for local residents; identifying a venue for and organising a public exhibition; producing exhibition boards; drafting letters to key stakeholders; and media relations.
Oliver Doubleday added: “Throughout the project there was a very good level of engagement with the public, the exhibition was informative and any queries raised were addressed accurately and promptly. This important part of the team’s efforts helped to ensure a speedy positive outcome and I am pleased to praise Maxim’s thorough work.”
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