Huge solar farms project for Mid Wales would be one of biggest in UK

One of the UK’s largest solar farms could be built in the region, under plans which would also see the need for wind farms massively reduced.

A 280-acre solar farm could be built on land at Waun Ddubarthog, near Bwlch y Sarnau, between Newtown and Rhayader, which would leave it among the largest in the country.

It is part of plans by Powys County Council to build up to 20 solar farms in the county to replace the need for wind farms.

The council’s Local Development Plan said it is cutting the energy target from wind farms by 90 per cent – from 600 megawatts to 60. The news has been greeted with “cautious celebrations” by anti-wind farm campaigners, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) which said the new proposals put emphasis on solar energy farms and include up to 20 sites across Powys considered suitable.

Also listed are medium-scale sites at Domgay, near Llandrinio; Heldre Hill east of Welshpool, at Staylittle; at Trefen near Trefeglwys; Drysgol north of Rhayader; and Camlo Hill, also near Rhayader.

Small-scale sites proposed include Bachyydrada near Tregeiriog; Abertridwr near Lake Vyrnwy; Fridd Llwydiarth near Dolanog; Buttington near Welshpool; Glynhafren near Lyn Clwyedog; Bryn Blaen near Llangurig; Bryn Titli also near Llangurig; Bwlch y Sarnau; Llandegley Rhos near Llandegley; Gilwern Hill near Frank’s Bridge; Nant Fawr near Lower Chapel; Llandyfalle Hill also near Lower Chapel and Ddyle near Abbeycymhir.

The CPRW has also voiced concern because although the Local Search Areas (LSA) for wind have been withdrawn, they say there remains proposed policies “which still encourage turbine developments”.

Powys County Council’s report states: “Any new policy must take into account small schemes for which the plan would continue to remain generally supportive, although no onshore wind LSAs were identified, it has been recognised that proposals at the local-authority wide scale may still come forward.”

“Technological advances in turbine technology and varying the assumptions from those used could identify potential sites provided they were in appropriate locations and identified constraints were mitigated at the site-specific level.”

Peter Seaman, chairman of the Brecon & Radnor branch of CPRW, said: “It will be a while before we come to any informed response but we strongly encourage communities and concerned individuals to study the proposals – including the small print for wind very carefully indeed and to submit any views to the Inspector carrying out the Examination of the LDP.

“The CPRW will be posting details on how to respond on our website at: brecon-and-radnor-cprw.wales and these will include the very tight deadlines for responses.

“In the meantime, we wish to remind the public that if it was not for the vigilance of individuals, actions groups and CPRW working together, our beautiful and valued landscapes could have been devastated by the council’s proposals of October last year.”

It comes just weeks after plans for a energy park in Oswestry were revealed. Renewables firm Engena wants to create the complex, which would include a 101-metre wind turbine and 2,500 solar panels near Oswestry’s Old Racecourse at Rhydycroesau.

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