Plans for a solar farm north of the Llanwern Steelworks, adjacent to the village of Bishton, will deliver tangible benefits for the local community. Project Manager Robin Johnson writes how the team have responded to local feedback, with plans to include significant local benefits, including an increased community fund worth over £1.5m, and over £500,000 to be spent on improving local footpaths and creating substantial communal green spaces in the area.

Following extensive public consultation held between December 2022 and September 2023 on plans for the 99.9MW solar farm north of the Llanwern Steelworks in Bishton, a series of positive changes have been incorporated into the final proposals.   

Additional landscaping and green spaces

  • An increased offset from all houses of 75m would be left from any panelling.
  • The level of wildflower meadow proposed across the site was increased from 30 acres to 129 acres, in addition to a new 30-acre dedicated lapwing habitat.
  • Proposed tree and hedgerow planting will now consist of mature and semi-mature planting rather than seedlings, providing screening from day 1, with the level of planting increased from 2km to 11.3km.
  • Large communal green spaces have been created on either side of Bishton, on otherwise private land, opening access to outdoor spaces for residents.

South Wales Argus:
An increased community benefit fund

  • An increased community fund worth £1.5m over the lifetime of the project is being proposed, increased from £300,000, alongside an additional fund for rooftop solar for local communal buildings such as churches, village halls and schools.
  • We are working with the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO) to ensure community funds are delivered directly to resident-led local projects/initiatives.

South Wales Argus:
New green infrastructure and increased access to the site

  • Improvements will be made to the ~5km of footpaths around the site, which includes restoration and creation of new footpath bridges and surfacing to ensure year-round accessibility for all.
  • 3km of new permissive paths will be created, providing looped walks connecting the new wildflower meadows, outdoor educational space, and orchard for residents on otherwise entirely private land.
  • A new 3-acre ‘Bishton Orchard’ will be created, consisting of a wildflower meadow planted with a variety of native apple, pear and plum trees, and fitted with picnic benches. The orchard will also be served by a permissive path to the village of Bishton and surrounding area.

South Wales Argus: What the ‘Bishton Orchard’ within the southern part of the site, which is currently inaccessible private land, would look like should plans be approved. What the ‘Bishton Orchard’ within the southern part of the site, which is currently inaccessible private land, would look like should plans be approved. (Image: JBM Solar)
Wildlife improvements

  • Shrill carder bee food plants (such as thistles, red clover, bird’s-foot trefoil and knapweed) have been incorporated into the over 129 acres of new proposed wildflower meadow to create a greatly enhanced, vital habitat for this important species and other key pollinators.
  • A new 30-acre dedicated enhanced lapwing habitat is proposed, strategically positioned with the input of local ecologists/experts, creating an important undisturbed habitat. 
  • The conversion of poor quality, intensively managed land subject to fertiliser and pesticide use into
    diverse, high-quality grassland and wildflower meadow, will have a significant benefit to local wildlife.

South Wales Argus:
We have listened to feedback from local stakeholders, and made significant, positive changes to the plans as a result. We will continue to listen to feedback prior to submission of the application later on this year, and thank everyone who has submitted feedback to date.

The Craig Y Perthi Solar Farm is a 99.9MW solar farm proposed on mostly poor-quality farmland between the M4 and the Llanwern Steel works, and adjacent to the village of Bishton in Newport. A planning application will be submitted shortly to Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) for consideration. The plans are being brought forward by UK-based developer JBM Solar (part of RWE), and would generate enough affordable, renewable energy to meet the equivalent needs of around 45,374 Welsh homes per annum, saving over 3,180,000 tonnes of CO2 in the process. That’s the equivalent of planting over 52 million trees.*

You can find out more about the scheme at


* US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ‘Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator’ 2023