A CONTENTIOUS application for a 45-acre solar farm near one of Wales’ oldest forests will be built after it got the go-ahead – despite protests from more than 100 campaigners.

Situated a mile-and-a-half from Wentwood Reservoir, the park will house 32,000 solar panels at Buckwell Farm, Pen-y-Cae Mawr after Monmouthshire council gave planning permission yesterday. But members warned there would be negative impacts on the county’s tourist industry.

Councillor David Dovey said: “People come to this county because of the countryside. We’re not doing it right. This is blanket coverage.”

Planning officers said there are “several properties with view of the site” but that it would be limited because they are some way away from the development. They said any close range views will be limited by boundary hedges and additional planting. Shirenewton community council and Llantrisant community council both opposed the plan.

But Cllr Roger Harris said it was important to support the plan and mitigate the impact of climate change: “We’ve had quite a number of these solar panels, wide turbines, etcetera coming before us and a lot of the argument is that it’s a beautiful county, that we should build it elsewhere.”

Fellow committee member, Cllr Maureen Powell, said residents would “get used” to the development after a few years. But a campaigner, Tim Miles, a farmer in Earlswood, said: “Forty six acres will be approximately eight times the size of the Tesco Extra hypermarket in Newport. This is simply not a sensible location.”

As part of the plan being accepted, it must be built within five years. All delivery vehicles travelling to the site when the farm is built will only be able to travel to and from there between 9.30am and 4pm. It is expected seven to eight lorries will travel to and from the site daily during construction.