Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Plans to build massive 76-acre solar farm rejected

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Plans to build a massive 76-acre solar farm in Kildare have been rejected by Kildare County Council.

Harmony Solar Kildare Ltd had applied to build the farm which would consist of an area of up to 92,400m2 of solar panels on ground mounted steel frames within a site area of 31.24 hectares.

The site would also include fenced electricity substation compound, transformer units, underground cable and ducts and boundary security fence with CCTV and all associated site services and works.

Planning permission was sought for a period of 10 years at Furryhill and Kilteel Lower, but it was rejected. Planning had been sought in June for the solar farm.

It comes as figures show that 225 applications for solar farms have been made in Ireland in the past two years to local authorities. No applications were in the system before then.

Research from PHR - a planning and research consultancy that specialises in data analysis and visualisation.

"There is just over 1.5 gigawatts of solar energy within the planning pipeline," PHR director Colin Broderick said.

"The capacity in the pipeline has grown rapidly with the first application being submitted in Wexford in June of 2015. Since then, 224 other applications have been lodged to local and national planning authorities. The average size of schemes to date is around 10 hectares with a generating capacity of up to five megawatts," Broderick added.

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He said that the uplift in activity has been fuelled by a drop in the price of solar technology in recent years.

The analysis, covering the period to the beginning of this month, shows that Cork is the county with the highest number of applications at 38. Wexford is second with 35, with Meath in third at 22.

The most active company is Highfield Solar, the figures show, with 27 applications. Elgin Energy has 21, Power Capital Renewable Energy has 17, and John Mullins' Amarenco has 14.

Of the 225 applications, 82 were granted by local authorities and seven refused. Of those that went to An Bord Pleanala, 13 were granted and three refused.

Thirty-one are currently under appeal and decisions are pending in 18 cases.

The largest applications are in Meath, with Highfield Solar having been granted permission for a 150-hectare farm.

That was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala. Last week the Sunday Independent revealed that Lightsource, headed by Antrim man Nick Boyle has applied for a 129-hectare project, also in Meath.

Gaelectric - perhaps best known for activities in wind - is also active in the sector.

It has recently had an application for a project spanning 62 hectares, at Ballyboughal in North County Dublin, rejected by Fingal County Council.

Online Editors