Decision to refuse planning for 377ac Solar farm appealed

Solar farms: caution has been advised
Solar farms: caution has been advised

David Looby

THE company hoping to erect a 377 acre solar farm in Foulksmills have appealed a decision by Wexford County Council to refuse the development to An Bord Pleanala.

Permission was sought in mid-June by Highfield Solar Ltd for a 152.8 hectare (377 acre) solar farm to be located at Raheenduff, Haresmead, Rosspile, Coolcliffe and Horetown North.

The ten year planning permission includes permission for solar photovoltaic panels on ground mounted steel frames, an IPP electrical control building and compound an inverter/transformer stations, battery storage units, storage containers and spare buildings, underground power and communication cables and ducts; boundary security fencing; upgraded internal access tracks and associated site works.

Meetings were held in Clongeen by `Community First Action Group', where concerns were raised about the effects the solar farm could have on the area including that the value of homes within the vicinity of the development could be reduced by 50 to 70 per cent.

According to the New Ross Standard, planning permission was refused for the solar farm in June and Highfield Solar Ltd appealed the decision on September 3.

In their decision in mid-August Wexford County Council planners said: a development of this nature and scale due to its character and location on a fragmented holding of 152 hectares would militate against the preservation of the landscape, cultural heritage resources, the amenities of the residential population and agricultural land use patterns and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area

It said the project would occupy highly productive agricultural lands and would undermine the agricultural sector in the area.

It added that it would represent an incongruous and dominant feature in the rural landscape.

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The council also said there was a lack of guidance at national, regional and local level in relation to the appropriate location, scale and distribution of proposals for solar farm arrays of this size and scale and that the proposed development would set an undesirable precedent for other similarly scaled developments and there was insufficient information on the impact on biodiversity and ecology of the area of the proposed development.

New Ross Standard