A TWO day appeal hearing was held at the Pembrokeshire Records Office last week over a planning application to build a 37,000 panel solar farm near Letterston.

The proposal for a solar photovoltaic array, covering approximately 23 hectares at Trecoed, was refused by Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee last May.

The reasons for refusal were its size and prominent location, its cumulative impact with an existing wind turbine to the north of the site, and "a significantly adverse impact on the character and visual amenity of the area."

The hearing was conducted by Ian Osborne, a planning inspector appointed by the Welsh Government .

In attendance were planning consultant Christopher Kimpton, Alison Leader and Marion Fransden from the agricultural and environmental consultancy ADAS, Pembrokeshire County Council planning officer Llyr Evans, the landowner William Miles, as well as local supporters and objectors.

Mr Osborne said: “I have driven around the area and along the A40.

“The main issue I have identified is the effect of the proposal on the character and appearance of the rural surroundings.”

Ms Fransden said: “We would say the proposal would have a moderate effect on the landscape.

“The most open view of the site would be from the A40. From the surrounding lanes most views would be screened by the very high hedgerows."

Mr Evans said Pembrokeshire County Council was not against solar farms, having approved them in Cosheston and St Florence amongst other places, but in this case the location was the issue.

“It is accepted that there is a need for renewable technologies, but in the right place,” he said.

Castlemorris resident Theresa Arkle is concerned about the impact the proposal would have on the views from her home.

She said: “It would harm the character of the area, bearing in mind there’s already a wind turbine at Panteg.”

Another objector, Kay Anstee from Jordanston Hill, said she was worried about the CCTV cameras that would provide security for the £10 million pound equipment on the site.

“My main concern is the loss of privacy. The cameras have a 360 degree capability, with one in our direct line of sight,” she said.

Mr Osborne carried out a site visit on Wednesday, and a decision on the appeal is expected in the next few weeks.