WELSH ministers are to decide whether two big solar farms in Carmarthenshire which could generate electricity for more than 25,000 homes should be built.
Objectors believe they are too big, but one supporter says “looking at glass instead of grass” was a small price to pay given the effects of climate change.
The planned projects for land near Llangennech and Tycroes are considered developments of national significance and will be examined by a Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector.
People and groups can submit comments for the next few weeks.
The inspector’s reports will be forwarded to ministers, who will then make a decision.
The Llangennech proposal is for three sites at Blaenhiraeth Farm – between Llangennech and Llannon – which could be accessed from the A476 and off Penderi Lane.
According to a planning statement submitted on behalf of applicant Voltalia UK, the solar farm would generate the equivalent electricity used by around 10,600 households for 35 years.
It said elements which comprised the landscape character of the three sites “would remain largely unaffected” by the proposed development.
The solar panels, it added, would not generally be visible from Hendy, Llangennech, Swiss Valley or Horeb – and some new hedgerows would be planted.
For residents closer to the solar farm, it said “none of the identified visual effects would be overbearing, overwhelming or oppressive to such a degree that it would affect living conditions as a matter for the public interest”.
It added that glimpses of the panels from Llannon, to the north, would be “barely perceptible”.
But Llannon Community Council said it was astonished that there hadn’t been a public consultation in its ward. In a submission to the planning inspectorate, it said the scale of the proposal was in its view “wholly inappropriate” and that the solar farm would be a blight on the landscape viewed over a significant area.
Individuals have also objected, including Helen Davies, of Felinfoel, Llanelli, who said she believed the proposals “would be a disaster for the precious green belt around Llanelli”.
She said she supported renewable energy but reckoned solar farms should go on old industrial brownfield sites.
Wales has a targeting of generating 70% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
A supporter of the project, Phil Owen, said: “With climate change already having an adverse effect on our way of life, looking at glass instead of grass as we pass by is a small price to pay.”
Constructing the solar farm would take eight to 12 months, and people can submit their views up to October 9.
The other solar farm proposal, meanwhile, is for three plots of land south-west of Tycroes.
A planning statement on behalf of the applicant, Spring, said two of the plots would effectively extend the existing Clwadd-du solar farm.
The statement said the scheme would generative the equivalent electricity used by 15,290 households for 40 years.
It said: “The application site areas have been chosen as they are naturally well concealed and the soil quality at each is recognised as being of poorer agricultural grade.
“There will be no significant physical changes to the land of the application site such as earth removal or levelling and the land will remain in agricultural use through sheep grazing.”
A landscape and visual impact assessment, and glint and glare assessment, have also been submitted.
The solar farm would take around 18 weeks to construct, and all hedgerows surrounding the areas would be retained.
A couple who live near the Clwadd-du solar farm have objected, saying the existing scheme has caused them disturbance and distress.
They felt the proposals were excessive and out of keeping with the rural surroundings.
People can submit their views up to October 21.
Dyfed Archaeological Trust said the land in question had many historic assets, including Bronze Age sites, recorded within close proximity and that a qualified archaeologist should assess the sites before any decisions were made.