Heat is on as giant solar farm hearings scheduled

Wednesday 27th July 2022 10:04 am
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An artist’s impression of the proposed solar park ()

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PLANS for a giant farmland solar park which could power up to 18,000 homes are set to be discussed at a three-day hearing.

Rush Wall Solar Park Ltd wants to install more than 150,000 solar panels on 100 hectares of Caldicot Levels farmland off Rushwall Lane near Redwick.

The application for an area of the Whitson Site of Special Scientific Interest has been deemed a development of national significance and will be decided by a Welsh Government planning inspector.

Hearings are set to take place from August 16, 17 and 22, at The Choir Hall in Caldicot’s Mill Lane.

The inspector will hear evidence relating to “preliminary matters, ecology, landscape/character and appearance, flooding, conditions and obligations”.

Members of the public can attend, but only those specifically invited by the inspector can give evidence.

According to the applicants, sunlight converted to electrical power would generate 75 megawatts of renewable energy per year – enough to power 18,755 homes, equating to a saving of 16,611 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The development, which would be sited there for 35 years, would also include 19 inverter stations, fencing and gates and CCTV mounted on posts within each field.

A planning statement says the location provides a “rare opportunity to complete an economically viable electricity grid connection”, with the site offering a connection to overhead electrical lines.

It adds that it benefits from being “well-screened” and concealed from local viewpoints and properties.

BSR Energy, the company behind the scheme, say that because the project is located within an SSSI, it has undertaken “several detailed ecology surveys to understand the flora and fauna within the site”. “This information has been used to shape the development into the existing environment,” it adds.

“The solar park will feature the latest technology from the industry, with a primary focus to maximise the yield over the given area.”

It is one of three applications being put forward for solar farms on the Gwent Levels.

Plans have also been lodged for a renewable energy hub on a site covering 155-hectares, between the villages of St Brides and Peterstone.

Newport City Council is also proposing to build a solar farm on seven hectares of the Wentlooge Levels, on land to the west of the River Ebbw near Maesglas landfill.

Anyone wanting to attend the three-day hearing into the Rush Wall application should contact Planning and Environment Decisions Wales by July 25 quoting the application number DNS/3220457, at www.planningcasework.service.gov.wales

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