New solar farm could damage an ancient dyke
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
The site for a proposed solar farm could cause “harm” to an ancient dyke, a report has revealed.
Caerphilly County Borough Council intends to build Cwm Ifor solar Farm in Penyrheol – but this could impact nearby Senghenydd Dyke.
The council has said it intends to minimise the impact of the 20 megawatt solar farm on the area and will treat Senghenydd Dyke as a scheduled monument.
The dyke follows the eastern boundary of the remnants of a 13th century deer park and has been classed as a site of “national importance” by Cadw. It is also currently being assessed to see whether it meets the criteria of a scheduled monument.
The western section of Senghenydd Dyke is located within the site of the proposed solar farm, which is why it would impact the historical area’s significance.
Possible harm to the area was revealed in a heritage impact assessment, which was conducted by environmental consulting firm WSP as part of the council’s application for planning permission.
The assessment states: “Proposals would introduce a new built form into this section of the deer park and within the immediate setting of the Senghenydd Dyke, which would result in harm to the asset’s significance.”
However, it added: “There is no anticipated physical impact to the upstanding remains of the dyke.”
Plaid Cymru councillor Steve Skivens has previously called for Senghenydd Dyke to be protected and maintained as an important landmark.
Cllr Skivens, who represents the Penyrheol ward, said elected members and residents had an opportunity to raise concerns with the council and be listened to, through various consultation events.
He continued: “The Senghenydd Dyke, which we wish to protect as an ancient feature of our local landscape, is near to the outline of the development.
“However, again we have been assured that via the local impact assessment and review by the CCBC Heritage Officer, Mr Peter Thomas, there is no anticipated physical impact to the upstanding remains of the dyke.
“Councillors will continue to be vigilant and raise concerns as and when they occur.
“There has to be scrutiny and balance with any development in a green area. However, there are clear benefits for the environment with this development.”
A council spokesperson said: “Senghenydd Dyke runs through and around the development and while it is not a scheduled monument, we will be treating it as scheduled monument status for the planning process, to ensure we are protecting it as a valued asset in the county borough.
“We will be led by the planning process as to what measures will alleviate any impact on any scheduled monuments. Landscape and visual studies have been completed. These have shown there will be a minimal view in the distance for Caerphilly Castle in particular.
“However, all views need to be considered and measures in place on how to minimise any impact.”
The Senghenydd Dyke is believed to have been built for the de Clare family as a hunting ground.
It also has “historical value” due to its relationship with Caerphilly Castle, a scheduled monument and Grade I listed building which was also built for the de Clare family, during the English invasion of south Wales.
The heritage impact assessment describes the relationship between Senghenydd Dyke and Caerphilly Castle as “intrinsic” to the dyke’s setting.
The deer park is also believed to have originated as the boundary for the Llys (royal court) of early medieval Senghenydd.
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No more windd turbines in Wales! We have more than our fair share already. Put them in the Pennines, the Peak District, the Cotswolds, etc.
If Offa’s dyke is protected why isn’t this dyke also protected? Imagine what would happen if they did the same on Offa’s Dyke! To benefit the environment doesn’t mean the need to damage ancient landmarks or heritage sites. There are plenty of other places to have solar farms. I doubt the Welsh government will step in to protect our historical sites.