Campaigners bid to stop solar farm near Wentwood Forest
5:46am Wednesday 18th December 2013 in Gwent news
ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners are stepping up efforts to stop a 32,000 solar panel park opening beside Wales’ largest ancient forest.
They fear the 45-acre solar farm would become an eyesore that could industrialise the Monmouthshire countryside and turn tourists away from Wentwood Forest’s ancient woodlands.
Campaigners also oppose the plans, a mile and a half from Wentwood Reservoir at Buckwell Farm in Pen-y-Cae Mawr, on health and safety grounds.
They say research suggests solar parks can leak potentially harmful levels of lead and cadmium into the soil and watercourses.
At a public meeting at Earlswood community hall on Monday attended by about 30 people, the campaigners received the backing of the community council.
Lead campaigner Tim Miles, 40, said: “It was very poorly thought out. It is the right idea in terms of energy, but in completely the wrong location.
“It is seven miles from the nearest power station, so it will require pylons, which look horrible.
“It would be highly visible from five roads. There are plenty of brownfield sites available.”
Plans for the solar farm have been submitted to Monmouthshire council by the Buckle Chamberlain Partnership.
Shirenewton ward county councillor Graham Down said: “I object to the industrialisation of the countryside, whether it be wind turbines, solar farms or anything else.
“I will be speaking and campaigning as strongly as I can for refusal.
“The farm will be so visible from such a long distance and there is the issue of potential contamination of watercourses.”
Shirenewton Community Council agreed to back the campaigners by six to one with one abstention at the public meeting.
Council chairman Ian Moore, 60, said: “Tourism is a big issue in Monmouthshire and this runs counter to the council promoting tourism. It is fair to say the scale of the park seems excessive.”
The multi-million pound facility would power 2,120 homes, saving 3,286 tonnes of Co2 emissions a year.
Buckle Chamberlain Partnership director Glynn Buckle stressed the site was not prime agricultural land and was well screened.
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