TORFAEN councillors have raised concerns about the 'uncertainty' of proposals to build a solar farm in Cwmbran.

An outline business case for a photovoltaic solar generation project at Llantarnam’s former Ty Coch tip was deemed “wishy washy” by one councillor at a meeting on Wednesday.

Officers had intended for a £3.7 million site capable of generating five megawatts (MW) of energy which would net the council £5 million cash after 35 years.

A council report says that a grid connection has been secured with Western Power Distribution.

But the cleaner communities scrutiny committee learned of plans for a smaller site, with a smaller cash return.

A report says a reduced scheme, capable of 3.85MW, is being proposed following consideration of the Canal Trust’s plans to build a visitor centre nearby.

The scheme would now cost £2.7 million and return a cash income of £1.81 million – the equivalent of around £52,000 a year – over its lifespan.

Both sites are being considered in the draft business case, which also outlines plans for further investigation to fully establish the potential costs to the council.

But Labour councillor Peter Jones, chair of the committee, said: “How will cabinet be able to make a decision with all these uncertainties? It seems a little bit premature.”

Co-opted committee member Alun Williams also raised concerns about the business plan’s reliance on forecasts.

“In October there was a capital cost of £3.7 million and an overall benefit to the council of £5 million,” he said.

“That’s drastically altered, and that change really worries me.”

Labour councillor Giles Davies added: “I think [the plan] is a bit wishy washy. I’d prefer it to come back to scrutiny with more concrete figures.

“It’s a lot of money to be spending. It’s a fantastic scheme, I’m all for green energy but we need to be 100 per cent certain of the costings.”

Steve Jarrett, assistant chief officer for technical services, said: “We’d like to be in a stronger position and have all these costs bottomed out. This information we’ll have by the time we go to cabinet.

“Forecasting is always going to be a difficult one. It is necessary as we won’t know for certain what the price [of electricity] is going to be in 25 to 30 years’ time.”

When asked by Labour councillor Dave Thomas about the officers’ confidence in the scheme, Mr Jarrett said: “We think we’ve got a good viable project that provides income and ticks other boxes as well.

“What I can’t give you is a guarantee that that won’t change. If that does change, our thoughts may change around it.”