A CORNER of a field in a designated Wyeside area of outstanding beauty can be covered in 72 solar panels to power a single house, councillors have ruled.

The panels, which will be raised 50cm above ground, will cover 350sq m, described as “two cricket pitches in length” at Pen y Fan near The Narth.

They will provide all the electricity required for the applicants’ home, Woodfield House, and power two electric vehicles . Any further excess generation in summer will be fed back to the national grid. 

Applicants, Mr and Mrs Williams, will also have a battery storage system 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 typically requires 14 panels to produce 5kwp. 

Monmouthshire Council’s planning committee were told the larger area was required as it will be on the crest of a hill to aid screening from vantage points in the Wye Valley National Landscape (formerly the AONB).

The WVNL officer had requested the plans be amended but council planning officers said the siting, and nearby trees, meant the panels shouldn’t be visible from public right of way or the other side of the River Wye in England.

Council planning officer Phil Thomas said the site is “deep in the countryside” and if the panels were placed beside the house, trees would probably have to be chopped down to let sunlight through.

Councillor Jayne McKenna (Con, Mitchell Troy and Trellech) said she had “grave concerns” and suggested a decision should be deferred for a smaller scale scheme to be submitted “more in keeping with a four or five-bedroom house”. 

Cllr Tony Easson (Lab, Dewstow), questioning why such a large area was needed, said: “It’s two cricket pitches in length and three cricket pitches wide.” 

And Cllr Steven Garratt (Lab, Overmonnow) 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 was approved by 13 votes to one with one abstention.