Local group fails in appeal against Longford solar farm development

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Local group fails in appeal against Longford solar farm development

An appeal to An Bord Pleanála by the residents and farmers of Ballykenny, Tully and Brianstown against the granting of planning permission for a proposed 19 hectare solar farm development at Ballykenny, Co Longford has failed.

On October 24 last year, Longford County Council granted permission, subject to conditions, to Ballykenny Solar Limited, care of Grasstec Limited of Kilpatrick, Ballyclough, Mallow, County Cork for the project to proceed.

Ballykenny Solar Ltd sought a 25 year permission for a solar farm up to 19 hectares, with an export capacity of approximately 9 MegaWatts.

The farm would comprise of photovoltaic panels on ground mounted steel frames, a single storey DNO building, customer room, control building, storage container, HV kiosk, switchgear housing and six inverter transformer enclosures, ducting and electrical cabling, perimeter fencing, mounted CCTV cameras, new internal access tracks and associated drainage infrastructure and all associated site works at Ballykenny.

The site is adjacent to the existing ESB Richmond electricity substation.

The residents and farmers of Ballykenny, Tully and Brianstown, last November, lodged their appeal, seeking a refusal of permission for the solar farm and earlier this month, on May 8, An Bord Pleanála rubber-stamped the granting of permission with revised conditions.

An Bord Pleanála stated that having regard to the provisions of the Longford County Development Plan 2015 to 2021, the solar farm would not seriously impact on natural heritage, the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity or give rise to a traffic hazard.

It added, “It (the solar farm) would supply renewable energy to the national grid and substitute for non-renewable generation and would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The appellants expressed concern Lough Forbes Complex Special Area of Conservation and the Ballykenny-Fisherstown Bog Special Protection Area could potentially be affected by the proposed solar farm but An Bord Pleanála disagreed.

It said: “Subject to compliance with the mitigation measures as set out in the submitted Natura Impact Statement, as modified by Inspector Dolores McCague in her report, the proposed development, individually or in combination with other plans or projects, would not adversely affect the integrity of these two European sites.”

The inspector’s report and decision is published in full on the An Bord Pleanála website www.pleanala.ie.