UK: Success for Welsh solar farm

U.K. renewable energy development company 3C Energy is celebrating a victory for its planned 10 MW solar farm in Wales.

3C Energy says its proposed project, which was approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, will provide green electricity for some 2,700 homes and save 4,800 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the site will remain in agricultural use with sheep grazing between the panels. The plant will also be removed at the end of its operational life.

The Cardiff-based company initially met local opposition to the proposed installation near the town of Abergavenny in the Welsh county of Monmouthshire. Although the Monmouthshire County Council’s planning officer had recommended approval of the project, it was refused by planning committee members who said it would significantly harm the “visual amenity” of the area and wider landscape qualities.

Planning Inspector Clive Nield rejected the claims, however, concluding that the proposed solar farm “would not have an unacceptable adverse effect on the character of the wider landscape area or the visual amenity of the area.” In addressing the issue of quality of agricultural land – another major point of contention among Council planning committee members – Nield said “the temporary nature and reversibility of the scheme would conserve the land quality resource for future use.”

3C Energy Managing Director Jonathan Townend said, “We are very pleased with the outcome, which is an important decision for the solar energy industry in Wales. It reinforces our position that the temporary use of agricultural land to generate renewable energy while helping to sustain agricultural livelihoods is not inappropriate and that the presumption in England against using best and most versatile land for this purpose should not be automatically applied in Wales.”

Established in 2012 as Camborne Energy Investments, the company rebranded as 3C Energy in May 2014. To date, 3C Energy has developed and sold leasehold assets with development rights for large-scale solar PV farms totaling 60 MW.