Residents in North Kerry affected by a proposed solar farm in Listowel, met with local councillors on Tuesday night to discuss their concerns and to appeal for their help to fight back against the proposed project.
he Tullamore Action Group, which was founded last month to oppose the solar farm, told The Kerryman that the project will have a detrimental effect on their community.
An application for a solar farm in Tullamore, Drombeg and Coolkeragh, was lodged by ‘Terra Solar II’ in July and a planning decision is due next month.
The planning application is for a 357,500 square metre solar farm which is to have a 35-year lifespan and which will export 50mw of electricity on a 99 hectare site.
If granted this would be one of the biggest solar farms in the county according to local residents, taking up 245 acres of land – or the equivalent of 27 full sized football pitches, the residents claim.
The Tullamore Action Group has lodged an objection to Kerry County Council which includes a petition signed by more than 65 members of the local community.
Their objection also includes a report from local engineer, Ger O’Keeffe and from OES environmental consultants supporting their concerns about the project.
The issues raised by residents include health and safety issues, traffic chaos, environmental factors and claims that their properties will be devalued as a result of the solar farm. A local auctioneer has also backed up this claim in the documention lodged with Kerry County Council.
Spokesperson for the group, Dan Browne, says that no-one knows what impact the solar farm will have.
“It is over 95 hectares of land or 245 acres. 245 acres of anything in one place will have a massive impact. We don’t think a small community can sustain such a big industrial development.”
In their submission to Kerry County Council the group included an agricultural impact report which states that the project would have a “major impact” on agriculture.
Tullamore Action Group also cited health and safety, increased traffic on the roads with up to 18 HGV’s accessing the solar farm daily during construction, and the impact the farm will have on the environment.
The glare from the solar panels is also a concern, though the likelihood of this is disputed in reports submitted by the developers to Kerry County Council.
In their report, the developers argue that glare was ‘theoretically possible in 53 houses’ but given the terrain only 11 would potentially be affected and that risk is ‘low, very low or no impact’.
The developers behind the project, Terra Solar 11 Ltd, in their application to Kerry County Council for the solar farm said they have analysed the effects the project would have on the region and they refute many of the concerns raised by the Tullamore Action Group.
A Natura Impact Statement was carried out and has been submitted to the council which states that “with implementation of best practice there will be no potential for direct, indirect or cumulative impact’ arising from the solar farm and that the lower River Shannon SAC, which is close by the development, will not be affected.
The planning documents also state that 48 households were called to in consultation with local residents.
However, residents claim that many of them did not even know this was planned.
“ A lot of houses didn’t get a visit. There was no open meeting with residents. Communications minster, Denis Naughtan said that communities would be not be bulldozed for renewable energy but we are being bulldozed,” said Mr Browne.
“What this will take from the community can never be replaced. We have genuine fears for our health, safety and well-being.”