Planning permission granted for huge 221ac solar farm in Wexford

Solar energy panels
Solar energy panels
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

An Bord Pleanala has granted planning permission for a huge 221ac (89ha) solar farm in Wexford following a long running planning battle over the development.

Highfield Solar Limited appealed a decision of Wexford County Council to refuse permission for construction of a solar PV energy development on site of 89.46 ha close to Killinick village in south Wexford.

Wexford County Council refused permission for the farm for several reasons.

It said the proposed 89.5 hectare farm would 'have an adverse effect on the visual amenity of the area and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area'.

Another reason for the planning refusal was possible adverse effects to nearby homes and road users from the glare of the panels.

It said 'the planning authority is not satisfied it has been adequately demonstrated that residential properties in close proximity to the site will not be adversely effected by glint and glare arising from the proposed development.

Highfield went on to appeal the decision with An Bord Pleanala but this too was refused in February 2017.

An application for judicial review was heard in November 2017. A settlement was reached by consent and granted an order quashing the decision to refuse permission. The case was then remitted to the Board.

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The Board considered the case at in May 2018 and a Natura Impact Statement was requested together with information on cultural heritage

Following an investigation by a Seinor planning inspector it was concluded that the proposed development would not adversely affect the integrity and conservation status of any special protection or conservation areas.

The Board was further satisfied that the development of a solar farm at this location, notwithstanding its scale, would not be detrimental to the overall agriculture output of the area would not be contrary to the local, regional and national policy for renewable energy.

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