Friday 18 January 2019

Go-ahead for solar farm in Rathdrum

Myles Buchanan

An Bord Pleanála has upheld Wicklow County Council's decision to grant planning permission for a solar farm in Rathdrum.

Gaelectric Renewable Energy Developments Ltd were seeking ten-year permission for the development of a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy development, including a single storey electrical substation building, electrical inverter and transformer stations, at Garrymore Upper.

The application was first lodged with Wicklow County Council on October 10, 2016, and granted conditional permission on January 1, 2017. An appeal was lodged with An Bord Pleanála on February 2 of last year.

Permission was also sought for solar PV panels mounted on metal frames, new access tracks, underground cabling, perimeter fencing with infrafred CCTV and access gates, a temporary construction compound, spare parts container, weather station, an upgraded access (north access) from the L2127 (Greenane Road), a new access (west access) from the L6145 (Ballyknockan Road) and all ancillary infrastructure and associated works within a total site area of up to 38 acres.

The An Bord Pleanála inspector's report states: 'It is considered that, subject to compliance with the conditions set out below, the proposed development would have acceptable impacts on visual amenity, would not seriously injure the residential amenities of property in the vicinity, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience, and would not create a risk of flooding or of environmental pollution. The proposed development would therefore be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.'

A number of conditions are attached to the planning permission, including that all structures including foundations will be removed no later than 25 years from the date of commissioning of the development and the site reinstated, unless planning permission end up being granted for their retention for a further period.

Prior to the commencement of the development a detailed restoration plan will be required, providing for the removal of the solar arrays, including all foundations, anchors, inverter/transformer stations, substation, CCTV cameras, fencing and site access to a specific timescale.

On full or partial decommissioning of the solar farm, or if the solar farm ceases operation for a period of more than one year, the solar arrays, including foundations/anchors, and all associated equipment, shall be dismantled and removed permanently from the site. The site shall be restored in accordance with this plan and all decommissioned structures shall be removed within three months of decommissioning.

Last month, An Bord Pleanála granted permission for three other County Wicklow solar farms - two in Rathnew and one in Newtownmountkennedy.

Wicklow People