A CONTROVERSIAL application for a 45 acre solar farm near one of Wales’ largest ancient forest will go before a planning committee in August despite protest from more than 100 campaigners.

The proposed 32,000 solar panel park will be a mile-and-a-half from Wentwood Reservoir at Buckwell Farm in Pen-y-Cae Mawr, Monmouthshire. The application was initially due to be considered by the local authority in January but will now be considered on August 5, a decision which campaigners opposed to the plans say could affect the outcome.

Tim Miles, 41, campaigner, said: "I think they have done this on purpose. There were lots of holes in the application in January when many people were on holiday, it raises suspicion that eight months later the meeting will be held in August, when a lot of members of the public and councillors will be away.

"There are real concerns as Wentwood is a Special Landscape Area which is supposed to be protected from development. There are questions of why this is recommended for approval.”

Mr Miles who is a farmer in Earlswood said the location of the proposed solar farm is nine miles to the nearest substation and will require the erection of pylons.

He said: "If MCC approve this they are also approving the implementation of pylons across the area right down to Caldicot and Usk. Dozens of farms will be impacted by this.

"The area is extremely popular with walkers and mountain bikers, it's a beauty spot. I can't see a reason for them to recommend the plans."

Plans for the solar farm have been submitted to Monmouthshire council by the Buckle Chamberlain Partnership. The multi-million-pound facility would power 2,120 homes, saving 3,286 tonnes of Co2 emissions a year.

More than 100 campaigners have raised objection to the proposals and David Davies MP for Monmouthshire has raised concerns for the application for positioning an 'industrial scale solar farm in an exceptionally beautiful part of the countryside.'

Cllr Graham Down, member for Shirenewton, said: "I think it's disgraceful that such a controversial application will be considered in August. They should re-consider in the interest of openness and differ until September."

He added: "It would be visible from all of Wentwood. It seems insincere for Monmouthshire to be promoted as a tourist destination and then seen to be spoiling the countryside which people have come to see by sticking solar panels here."

A Monmouthshire council spokeswoman confirmed the intention was to finalise the officer report in time for the August 5 planning committee.

She added: "The monthly planning committee doesn’t have a summer recess there is no reason to be selective about which planning applications are reported over holiday periods. No objector will be disadvantaged as all objections and representations will be summarised in the officer report."