The plans by London-based Lightsource Renewable Energy to erect 18,000 solar panels on land at Treguff Farm, St Mary Church, Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, have been at the centre of debate for nearly a year.
South Wales is seen as a prime location for solar farm projects, and the Vale of Glamorgan is particularly favoured due to the high “irradiance” levels – power produced by the sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation.
The Treguff Farm plan is one of a series of solar array developments in the Vale of Glamorgan which have wither been approved or are in the pipeline.
Vale councillors refused the Treguff Farm plan amid opposition by residents who said it would spoil and unspoiled rural landscape.
Villagers from nearby West Aberthaw and Gileston opposed the plans, with the support of St Athan Community Council, arguing that the development is too large and out of proportion.
But in his inquiry report, Inspector Alan Novitzky said: “The fabric of the landscape would be affected very little by the proposal.
“All the generating equipment and associated supports, buildings and fencing would be removed at the termination of operation and the land restored.
“Foundations would be shallow, the land would continue to be used for grazing during the operation of the permission, and there would be little long term physical alteration of the landscape.”
He went on: “In one sense, the character would be enhanced through reinforcement of the boundary hedges and tree planting, benefitting the historic well preserved irregular fieldscape. Loss of the mature trees which run west to east across part of the site would be harmful. However, I understand they are in poor condition with limited life.
“The wider landscape contains a number of solar arrays which have been successfully absorbed. They can be compared to an installation of glasshouses or polytunnels which may well be regarded as acceptable in some agricultural settings without unduly disrupting the character of the landscape.
“Overall the effect of the proposal on the character of the landscape and its quality would be acceptable.”
Mr Novitzky said the development would “give rise to a minor degree of harm to the appearance of the countryside and the character and appearance of the Flemingston Conservation Area.”
But he said the harm to the Conservation Area would be balanced against the public benefits of the proposal.
TO READ ORIGINAL STORY CLICK HERE