Plans for 12MW Kildare solar farm are rejected
A JOINT venture between Irish renewables firm BNRG and France's Neoen for a 12MW solar farm in Co Kildare has been refused permission by An Bord Pleanála.
The planning watchdog said the planned development would be contrary to the proper planning of the area.
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BNRG and Neoen intended to build the solar farm at an agricultural site just over 4km from Kildare town.
The development was refused by the local council on the grounds that the location was a "special landscape".
An Bord Pleanála said the development would "seriously injure" the visual amenities of the area and would conflict with the development plan objective to protect the landscape.
"The proposed solar farm would form a prominent and obtrusive feature in the landscape, which would be highly visible in views from its environs and which would adversely impact on the character of the local setting," said the planning watchdog's inspector.
In 2017, BNRG and Neoen formed a joint venture to develop as many as 23 solar projects in the south and the east of the country. The solar farms were intended to be generating more than a combined 200MW of electricity when complete. It was expected they would cost a total of €220m to develop.
BNRG Renewables has already developed €230m of solar projects in the UK and mainland Europe. It also has a pipeline of projects in Australia and Latin America. Last year, it commenced construction of 10 solar projects in Oregon that will deliver combined output of 35MW.
The company, founded by David Maguire and Neil Holman, has also been developing a project in Maine in the US. It expects to have completed 150MW of projects in the US by the middle of next year.
Last year, BNRG Renewables opened the 14MW Laurel Hill solar farm in Co Down.
Meanwhile, Terra Solar has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanála for a 50MW solar farm in Co Kerry.
The proposal had been objected to by individuals including environmentalist Peter Sweetman. He has also objected to plans by chip giant Intel for a new $4bn (€3.6bn) manufacturing facility at its campus at Leixlip in Co Kildare. The project has been approved by Kildare County Council, but is almost certain to be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
The planning watchdog said the Terra Solar project in Co Kerry, which will be 3.5km from Listowel, should be allowed, subject to a number of conditions. It had been rejected by the local council.