A MONMOUTHSHIRE county councillor has attacked his colleagues’ decision to pass plans for a 32,000-panel solar farm just north of the Wentwood Reservoir.

Cllr Graham Down, who represents Shirenewton on the council, told its planning committee the plans presented to them last Tuesday , August 5, amounted to “rural vandalism”. He said the panels will destroy the area’s scenic beauty for the 25 years they will be based at Buckwell Farm in Pen-y-Cae Mawr.

He said: “The first issue with the application was the timing. Three members of the community were away and they have school aged children. The result might well have been different (if they were there). It is silly, it is absurd, it is ridiculous.”

But Monmouthshire council has said no application has unfair weight given for or against it by being heard during the summer months.

And Cllr Down said points raised by two committee members, Cllrs Phil Murphy and Roger Harris, that people do not necessarily notice them on a motorway was a flawed comparison because the farm will be built away from any motorways and in the Monmouthshire countryside.

Cllr Down added: “Their contention that was you do not notice them. If you’re driving at 70 miles per hour you don’t notice them. It is not the same as staring at a solar farm of 30,000 panels.

“The only community benefit coming out of this is an education provision so they can bring Welsh children there. There is absolutely nothing for the community at large.”

And he added he had asked the decision to be withheld for the time being because of what he said were “irregularities and omissions” in the planning process.

The solar farm plan was submitted by the Llancayo-based Buckle Chamberlain Partnership, who have said the development will power 2,120 homes, saving 3,286 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.

Before the meeting last week, opponents to the scheme had said they were worried pylons stretching from Wentwood to Caldicot would need to be built to transfer the electricity harvested by the panels. But a Buckle Chamberlain Partnership representative told the meeting last week that he could not foresee see the need for any pylons to be built.

And Monmouth MP David Davies previously said that he had concerns about the plan because of the potentially high expense of buying back electricity harvested by the solar panels.