Development company BSR Energy has launched a challenge against the Welsh Minister after being refused planning consent for a 75MW solar farm.

Rush Wall Solar Park, a solar farm being proposed close to Newport, South Wales, had been refused planning consent by Mark Drakeford, first minister of Wales, in June 2023 despite it having been recommended for approval in the Inspector’s report.

The project was set to be developed on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Redwick, according to the Gwent Wildlife Trust, and fears had been raised about the potential ecological impact a farm of this size – spanning around 85 hectares – could have.

However, it is important to note that the project was expected to “enhance the site’s biodiversity, contributing to a 75% net gain delivered through the careful management of the land”.

This had been acknowledged by BSR Energy, the development arm of British Solar Renewables (BSR), with a spokesperson having said: “The Rush Wall site is part of an SSSI designation, and a full environmental statement was produced highlighting a range of natural protections and betterments the development will secure.

“Detailed assessments were undertaken by our environmental consultants, which led to a scheme design that is sensitive towards and compatible with the local landscape and environment. This includes the opportunity for ecological enhancements including management of the reen and ditches.”

BSR concluded by highlighting the potential benefits such a project could have on the decarbonisation of Wales.

“The project’s ability to connect to the UK’s national electricity grid is the most significant benefit of the site. An energy generation project of this scale is not achievable in most other locations within the regional area or even at the national level,” a BSR spokesperson said.

“Although we were disappointed by the Welsh Minister’s decision on the proposed Rush Wall Solar Park, we were encouraged by the Inspector’s Report, which highlighted the significant benefits the scheme would deliver.”