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Permission granted for solar panels in area of outstanding natural beauty

06 Jun 2024 3 minute read
A view of the field in the hamlet of Pen Y Fan, Monmouthshire where the solar panels will be placed. Picture: Monmouthshire County Council planning file.

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A corner of a field in an area of outstanding natural beauty will be covered in 72 solar panels to power a single house.

The panels, which will only be raised 50 centimetres from the ground and smaller than typical domestic panels, will cover an area of 350 square metres described as “two cricket pitches in length and three pitches wide”.

They will provide all the electricity required for the applicants’ home, Woodfield House, and power two electric vehicles from the excess supply. Any further excess generation at the height of summer will potentially fed back to the national grid.

Applicants, Mr and Mrs Williams, will also have a battery storage system in place for the solar array, to be arranged in four rows of 18 panels, which should produce 30 kilowatts an hour working at its peak. An average four or five bedroom house would typically require 14 panels to produce 5kwp.

Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee were told the larger area is required as it is planned to be placed at the crest of a hill to aid in screening it from vantage points in the Wye Valley National Landscape previously known as the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The council’s ecologist said the area of the field was too small to require an ecological impact report.

The Wye Valley Landscape officer had requested the plans be amended but council planning officers said the siting, and nearby trees, mean the panels shouldn’t be visible from the public right of way to the east or from the other side of the river Wye in England and therefore there wouldn’t be an adverse visual impact or unacceptable impact on the wider area and landscape.

Council planning officer Phil Thomas said the site is “deep in the countryside” in the isolated hamlet of Pen y Fan near The Narth and said if the panels were to be placed in the curtilage of the house it is likely trees would have to be chopped down to allow for enough sunlight to reach them.

Local councillor for Mitchell Troy and Trellech, Conservative Jayne McKenna, said she had “grave concerns” and suggested a decision should be deferred for the applicants to put forward a smaller scale scheme “more in keeping with a four or five bedroom house”.

Labour councillor for Dewstow, Tony Easson, said he didn’t know why such a large area was required for domestic use. He said: “It’s two cricket pitches in length and three cricket pitches wide.”

Overmonnow Labour member Steven Garratt said: “It’s a well thought out plan in a sensitive area but overall we will need to encourage people to do these things in the future.”

The change of use application for the field, currently classed as agricultural land, was approved by 13 votes in favour with one against and one abstention. The permission is subject to a condition the field is returned to its current condition when the equipment is no longer in use.


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
10 days ago

At the rate agricultural land is being used up for renewable energy we will have to hope that a machine for making food out of electricity is developed!

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