Solar power farms approved by planning watchdog
Two solar power generating projects, one of which had been refused permission by the local authority, have been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála.
One is a 14MW plant in Co Cork that will be built by Terra Solar, while the other is a 6MW project in Co Kilkenny to be constructed by a unit of French utility giant Engie.
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They're the latest in a long list of solar power plants that have gone through the planning system in the past number of years.
The Terra Solar project is on a near 23-hectare site about 1km from Ballincollig.
The project had been approved by Cork County Council in February, subject to 38 conditions.
However, the decision there was subject to an appeal to the planning watchdog.
It claimed the development would contravene the county development plan and because it would be based on an elevated site, the landscape would be adversely affected.
"In reality, it must be accepted that the solar farm would be visible," noted the An Bord Pleanála inspector.
"However, to suggest that this visual impact would be significant would be over-stating its impact due to the context in which the development would be set and due to how this context would change over the life of the development," he said in recommending approval of the project.
The Engie Developments scheme, about 1.5km from the village of Mooncoin in Co Kilkenny, had been refused permission by the local council in February.
It claimed the development would adversely affect the operation and safety of a national road route, and that glint and glare could result in a traffic hazard for users of the proposed Mooncoin bypass.
An Bord Pleanála disagreed, arguing the proposed solar project would not affect the design of the proposed bypass except if the route was relocated.
The planning watchdog approved the solar project, with 15 conditions.
Meanwhile, an appeal has been made against the decision to grant permission to John Mullins' Amarenco Solar for a 5MW farm near Fermoy in Co Cork.