A SOLAR farm planned near Llantrisant could produce enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes.
An application from Talgren Solar Limited proposes the construction and operation of a solar photovoltaic farm including access, fencing, CCTV, internal service tracks, ancillary equipment and a scheme of landscaping at Rhiwfelin Fawr Farm.
It would cover around 4.3 hectares and generate up to 9.9 megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 2,600 homes per year or take 1,100 cars off the road, and offset nearly 2,850 tonnes of carbon each year.
Primary access to the site will be gained via the farm’s existing access off the adjacent highway, Pantybrad (east).
A secondary access is also proposed off Pantybrad which would serve the required substation but this would be used only on an ad-hoc basis for maintenance and repair works when necessary.
The scheme would also include various landscaping works and biodiversity enhancement measures, electricity substations and customer cabins, inverters, transformers and associated cabling, two metre high perimeter fencing and CCTV and internal service tracks.
The planning report said that the development had purposely been kept out of any high ecologically valued habitat and that very little site clearance would be required.
The solar farm will connect to the local distribution network at an existing substation located approximately 1.3km to the south along the A4119 (Ely Valley Road).
The cable from the site to the substation would be below ground and would largely run within the highways.
The solar farm is to be operational for 40 years, after which the facility would be decommissioned and all equipment removed from site, returning it to its former condition and use.
There were initial concerns raised by both the council’s ecologist and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) relating to the site’s proximity to
the nearby Rhos Tonyrefail Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and potential impacts the development could have upon links between different areas of the SSSI.
As a result, the scheme was amended with 1.4 hectares of the solar panels nearest to the SSSI relocated from the southern element of the site to new fields outside of the original red line boundary and to the north-east of the farmhouse.
There were no public representations received in relation to the application.
Planning officers have recommended it be approved saying: “The provision of a solar farm in this location will result in a positive contribution to WG’s (Welsh Government) renewable energy targets and will provide clean, renewable energy to the benefit of all RCT residents, as well as providing clear environmental benefits.
“While it is accepted the proposed development will inevitably result in a degree of impact to the character and appearance of the area, subject to appropriate conditions/mitigation, it is not considered any potential impact would be significant enough to warrant refusal of the application.”
They said that appropriate biodiversity mitigation and enhancement measures would be implemented that would ensure there was no determinant to biodiversity or ecology on and around the site or any impact to the nearby Rhos Tonyrefail Site of Special Scientific Interest, and these measures can be properly controlled through conditions and a Section 106 agreement.
They said: “Through the proposed measures, there is actually capacity for the development to evidence some ecological enhancement at the site. There would be no undue impact to the amenity levels currently enjoyed by the closest neighbouring residents, and the impact of the scheme upon highway safety and land drainage can be suitably mitigated.”