Tredegar solar park approved despite ‘landscape’ concerns

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A solar farm
The solar park would be built on a farm near Tredegar

A decision to give the go ahead to a controversial solar park in Blaenau Gwent has been criticised by councillors.

A planning inspector, two councils and Cadw said the 30MW project should be rejected because of its impact on the landscape at Wauntysswg Farm near Tredegar.

But Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James backed the plans.

She said the “significant” renewable energy benefits outweighed concerns.

Blaenau Gwent Council and Tredegar Town Council are also worried about the effect on Tredegar Ironworks Cholera Cemetery, which is classed by Cadw as being of national importance. 

With burial plots and gravestones dating from epidemics in the mid 19th Century, the cemetery is around 400m north of the site.

Councillors on Blaenau Gwent council’s planning committee suggested sending a letter “expressing our dissatisfaction” over the decision, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Councillor Mandy Moore said: “Everybody was objecting to it, it was not just Blaenau Gwent council, it was the people of Tredegar, and it has been ignored.”

Steve Smith, Blaenau Gwent’s service manager for development, said officers could offer their interpretation of planning law in the letter.

‘Significant benefits’

Planning inspector Melissa Hall said the impact on the cemetery would be “negative” and also raised concern over the visual effect of the solar park.

Ms Hall concluded the benefits of the proposal – helping to meet carbon and renewable targets – would not outweigh harm caused to the landscape.

Although the park would only be in place for 30 years, Ms Hall said: “This time period represents a generation, during the lifetime of which, the harm to the character and appearance of the area and to the setting of a heritage asset would subsist.”

Ms James insisted any impact on the landscape would be “temporary and fully reversible.”

She said the “significant benefits” of the proposal, by generating 30MW of electricity per year from a renewable source, outweighed any impact on the landscape or setting of the ancient monument.

The application was decided by a Welsh minister due to being designated as a Development of National Significance.

Blaenau Gwent council’s planning committee agreed to send a letter to the Welsh Government over the decision.

Source: BCC News