PLANS to build a solar farm on a former landfill site in Cwmbran have been given a boost by the local authority.

Members of Torfaen council’s cabinet met on Tuesday to approve an outline business case for the proposed development at Ty Coch.

Labour councillor Fiona Cross, executive member for environment, told the meeting that the project would follow the council’s previous attempts to embrace renewable energy technologies.

Cllr Cross added that the scheme could help towards the Welsh Government’s target for 70 per cent of all electricity production in Wales to come from local renewable sources by 2030.

“We are currently generating 220kwh (kilowatt hours) of electricity and 254kwh of energy heat,” said Cllr Cross.

“As part of our commitment to reduce the impact we have on climate change, the council has been carrying out investigations for development of potential renewable energy generation within the county borough.”

The proposed £2.7 million solar farm would be capable of generating 3.85 megawatts (MW) of energy over 35 years.

This energy generation is equivalent to the electricity needed to power 1,126 homes in Torfaen, or about 24 per cent of the council’s total electricity consumption.

“This is a significant contribution,” said Cllr Cross.

“The project has the potential to provide a long-term income to the council and deliver a number of benefits for carbon reduction.”

Labour councillor Veronica Crick, in agreement, said the scheme was an “excellent” way of using the brownfield site in Llantarnam.

Cardiff council has similar plans to install a solar farm at the Lamby Way landfill but the meeting heard that the scheme was “way in excess” of the Ty Coch project.

Last month the council’s cleaner communities scrutiny committee supported the idea of bringing the landfill site into use but raised concerns about the project’s financial forecasting.

A report underlines this by saying that until the project is market tested, the risk remains that the final construction costs could exceed the projected costs within the business case.

Cllr Cross said: “In addition a significant element of the equipment will be supplied from outside the UK so until contracts are signed the project will be exposed to the volatility of Foreign Exchange market fluctuations.”

Despite this the council agreed to a full business case being developed alongside the appointment of a contractor and the preparation and submission of a planning application.

A total of £112,000 will be withdrawn from council reserves to fund the next stages of the project.