PLANS to build one of the largest solar farms in Wales which could power more than 15,000 homes a year have been lodged.

An application submitted by the Gwent Farmers Community Solar Scheme seeks to erect up to 245,000 panels on 345 acres of land south of the former Llanwern Steelworks in Newport.

Over the course of its proposed 30-year lifespan, the farm would generate up to 50 megawatts of electricity and save more than 21,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.

Planners from estate agents Savills say the scheme has the potential to power a 428 hectare (1,057 acre) housing development - larger than the 4,000-home Glan Llyn development.

A report reads: “The whole of the former Llanwern steelworks site covers an area of 415 hectares, demonstrating the sheer capacity of the proposed scheme to provide a substantial amount of renewable energy.”

Due the size of the proposals, the application has been put forward to the Welsh Government as a development of national significance.

The application was validated by the Planning Inspectorate on March 5, having been submitted in January.

Rows of panels would be built on six parcels of land between Goldcliff and Whitson, with the nine land landowners behind the scheme hoping it will secure their farms for “future generations”.

Additional infrastructure includes up to 200 battery storage container units, underground cabling, security fencing and CCTV.

Peter Grubb, director of rural planning at Savills said: “If approved, the scheme would be one of the largest renewable energy schemes in Wales and provide an important contribution to meeting the stringent renewable energy targets set by the Welsh Government.

“Crucially, the scheme will make use of existing infrastructure previously used to service heavy industry at the Llanwern Steelworks site.”

“The application is accompanied by a full Environmental Impact Assessment and data gathered over a period of three years prior to submission of the application.

“As such, the biodiversity of the site has been fully assessed through a suite of ecology surveys. The panels themselves will be distanced from the hedgerows and watercourses.

“Additional areas of wildflower planting would be incorporated into the plans, and the site would be subject to an ecological management plan for the duration of the scheme.”

But the plans have been subject to criticism in the past, with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) saying last May: “The UK must switch to greater use of renewable energy as we look to meet our climate change targets for reducing greenhouse gas emission.

“However, this must be in harmony with nature to avoid damaging the very things we are trying to save.”

Those wishing to comment on the application have until Monday April 9 to do so.

To make a submission to the planning inspectorate, send your response to Isabel Nethell, Head of Service, The Planning Inspectorate, Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ.

Alternatively call 0303 444 5946 or email