Concerns raised over plans for massive solar farm straddling the Welsh border
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Concerns have been raised over plans for a solar farm measuring the size of around 70 football pitches which would straddle the Welsh border.
Proposals for a 30-megawatt development, which would cross the boundary between Flintshire and Cheshire near the village of Bretton, were first revealed in spring 2020.
A formal application was submitted at the end of the May for the solar scheme, which would form part of a community energy project by Ynni Newydd (New Energy).
The total site covers around 50-hectares of agricultural land at Bretton Hall Farm and spans across eight fields, with half on each side of the border.
Due to the scale of the plans it has been classed as a “Development of National Significance”, meaning a decision over whether to grant planning permission will be made by the Welsh Government.
Flintshire Council has been asked for its views on the proposals as part of a pre-application consultation.
Planning officials have raised fears over the level of flood risk at the site and it the scheme being located on an area of green barrier land.
In their response, they said: “The flood risk is significant with regards to this proposal whether related to the tests in the present TAN (planning technical advice note) or the new TAN, which is yet to be implemented.
“It is also clear that the land is prone to regular flooding which has demonstrated that it diminishes the agricultural land quality and ability to work for higher yields.
“The documents have not however demonstrated that the flooding won’t negatively affect the ability for the proposed solar farm to operate.
“This is a large solar farm within a green barrier whose key characteristics are is openness.
“A solar farm on this scale would present a prominent new feature in this previously open expanse of agricultural land.”
The proposals are due to be discussed at a meeting of the local authority’s planning committee next week.
Officers are asking to be given delegated authority from councillors to respond to the plans and submit a report outlining the impact on the local area.
Natural Resources Wales has also raised concerns regarding the scheme in response to the pre-application consultation.
In a letter, the Welsh Government sponsored body said: “We have concerns with the application as proposed because inadequate information has been provided.
“To overcome these concerns, you should provide further information in your planning application regarding flood risk and groundwater protection.
“If this information is not provided, we may object to the planning application when formally consulted by the planning authority.”
Consultants acting on behalf of the developers previously said the proposals would result in the installation of solar photovoltaic panels at a height of up to 4.6 metres.
Steps would also be taken to mitigate the risk of flooding by providing a clearance level of two metres above the ground.
The consultants said the scheme would generate a source of “clean, renewable energy” to mitigate against climate change and provide an additional source of revenue for the landowner.
It’s expected that a decision will be made on the proposals at a later date.
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