Fresh from defeat over a planned 11.8 MWp solar farm in Dorset’s Frome Valley, developer Enviromena is this week celebrating convincing all the members of a south Walian planning committee to back a separate proposal.
Councillors on Cynon Valley Council’s planning committee voted 8-0 in favour of the solar farmer’s application to covering 30 acres at Bryngolwg farm, Rhonnda Cynon Taf. It will feature 9MWp of south-facing racks behind existing hedges.
Reading-based Enviromena undertook its first Welsh project in co-operation with RE Projects Development.
When built, Bryngolwg will provide power to meet the needs of 2,500 homes and offset around 3,700 tonnes of carbon emissions every year. With the lowest edge of the panels raised above knee height, sheep will be free to carry on grazing.
Enviromena is headed by Cabell Fisher and chair Adrian Pike. Away from the Principality, its other live projects in England including 24.2MWp at Horsey Levels in Somerset and 17.9MW project in Kiln Fields, Hampshire. The latter also received unanimous approval from Hart District councillors in July.
Swings and roundabout, slings and arrows
No stakeholders objected to the Bryngolwg farm project, in relation to its visibility from nearby homes, its highway safety or its ecology, Cynon Valley planning officers note in their assessment.
“The principle of the development is considered to be acceptable, being a medium-scale solar farm development that would contribute to the Welsh Government’s commitment to optimising renewable energy generation”, the officers advised.
The win contrasts with the developer’s larger, failed application at Cruxton Farm, in Frome Valley’s area of outstanding natural beauty. There CEO Fisher took the unusual step of going public regarding a Dorset planning officer’s objections, pressing for councillors to ignore her recommendation to reject the 11.8 MWp scheme, intended for 40 acres near Maiden Newton.
Last week Enviromena announced it will appeal against the English county’s rejection by 8 votes to 3. The developer claimed that, over the project’s 17 months, it had repeatedly incorporated design amendments in response to local objections.
In September, planning consultants Turley released research, counting 23 PV farm proposals across Britain which failed to secure permission in the 18 months to July. In contrast, the firm claimed, only four solar ground-based schemes had been rejected throughout the four years up to 2020.
About the firm’s Bryngolwg success, Enviromena’s European sales director Lee Adams said: “This is our second site to receive unanimous planning approval in four months.
“We believe that local planners are reacting to the urgent need for renewable energy to tackle rising electricity bills, together with the need to meet the UK government’s new targets to double existing renewable generation capacity by 2030.