A SOLAR farm company which wants to install 47,000 panels on fields in the Swansea Valley is facing stiff opposition.
Several people in Craig Cefn Parc have emailed objections to Swansea Council about the pre-application enquiry by Solar Securities Ltd.
The Cornwall-based firm has earmarked a 21-hectare site – roughly the same area as 21 rugby pitches – to the east of the village.
The rural north and north-east of Swansea now has a wind farm and other solar farms operating or planned – with another wind farm just over the Carmarthenshire border to the north – and some people feel too much land is being used for this purpose.
Solar Securities project manager Rupert Warwick stressed it was early days, and the company would carry out a public consultation if was minded to take the plans forward.
He said: “We understand that the local environment and countryside is important to people.
“Our objective is to make this (development) as least impactful as possible.”
Alun Davies, of Craig Cefn Parc, is among those who have raised concerns.
“This one really is a step too far and will destroy what rugged, traditional, upland countryside remains in this wonderful community,” he said.
Fellow resident Kathy Bater added: “Will look hideous and ruin our rural village.”
Julie Tate said she supported renewable energy production, but felt the site was “wholly inappropriate”.
She added: “There are many vast areas of disused factory and industrial land – even old colliery sites that would be better locations – with ready access to the infrastructure required.”
Holiday let owner Bob Morgan said he was already concerned about the effect of the recent closure of Craig Cefn Parc Primary School on his business and felt the solar farm “will be the final nail in the coffin for tourism” in the area.
Mr Warwick said discussions would take place with Swansea Council to see if the scheme was viable.
He said the company had chosen the site because it was close to an area identified by the council as having potential for solar energy production, although this would not pre-determine an application in any way.
Mr Warwick said: “We will do a landscape visual impact assessment to see how much impact the site has.”
Other surveys and technical studies, he said, would be carried out to test the site’s viability.
“We will be consulting with the local community and the community council,” added Mr Warwick.
He described the land in question as “reasonably low quality” but said sheep would still be able graze among the solar panels if the scheme was to go ahead.
Access tracks, fencing, storage containers and substations would also need to be installed if a subsequent planning application was approved.
Image attribution. MrRenewablesWestmill Solar Co-operativeNeil Maw [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]