Mid Wales solar farm plans ‘will be considered on their merits’
New solar farms will be considered on their merits despite being within areas set out for their development, according to a leading Mid Wales councillor.
Councillor Martin Weale, Powys County Council's cabinet member for regeneration, has insisted that any solar farms proposed for 20 sites identified by the council "would be subject to the full planning process".
It comes as the council publishes new evidence on renewable energy as part of an examination of its Local Development Plan (LDP).
The LDP sets out parts of the county which can be developed for certain uses, such as renewable energy, housing, or industrial purposes.
The new evidence is from additional work undertaken in response to public comments received on the plan, and complies with the Welsh Government’s policy and guidance to optimise energy from renewable energy sources to combat climate change.
The county-wide high-level assessment, which takes into account landscape sensitivity, has identified 20 local search areas with the potential for solar development.
It is estimated that the combined output of the sites could see the county generate up to 45 MW of solar energy by 2026.
They include plans for a 280 acre solar farm between Newtown and Rhayader, which would be one of the biggest in Britain.
The evidence includes a revised renewable energy assessment, a landscape sensitivity study for solar farm development, and a position statement on renewable energy, will be considered at the public examination of the LDP.
Councillor Weale said: “As the new cabinet member I have been thoroughly briefed about the LDP hearing. I would remind the public that renewable energy document produced by the council is a high level theoretical study and that any scheme would be subject of full planning process.”
He added that any planning application for a solar energy development proposal within or outside a local search area, would still have to be determined on its own individual merits within relevant planning policies and material considerations.
Medium sites suggested include Domgay near Llandrinio, Heldre Hill east of Welshpool, Staylittle, 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 council’s LDP said it is cutting the energy target from wind farms by 90 per cent – from 600 megawatts to 60.
The work can be viewed on the LDP website and can be referred to by people attending the renewable energy hearing sessions, but, it is not available for public consultation at this time.
Any comments on the work received by either the council or the examination Inspector will be returned.
The current hearing will end in July and is likely to be followed by six week public consultation on further changes to the LDP - these are known as matters arising changes.