The light is not green for two solar farms

By Esther Hayden

Published 27/08/2016 | 00:00

A solar energy company has been refused planning permission to build two solar farms in Wexford.

Wexford County Council refused Highfield Solar Limited permission to build an 89.5 hectare solar farm at Ballyminaun Big, Grahormick, Hilltown, Jonastown, Newhouse, Gibboughstown, Garryhask, Crosstown, Killinick and Tomhaggard and a 12.7 hectare farm at Monafin, Enniscorthy.

In respect of the proposed larger solar farm at Killinick, the council received two submissions from local residents, Dara Phelan of Grahormick, Killinick, and Juergen Besemer, Hilltown, Killinick.

Wexford County Council refused permission for the farm for several reasons. It said that an objective of the County Development Plan is to 'require all developments to be appropriate in scale and sited, designed and landscaped having regard to their setting in the landscape so as to ensure that any potential adverse visual impacts are minimised'.

It went on to say that the proposed 89.5 hectare farm would 'have an adverse effect on the visual amenity of the area and be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area'. The council also said that development had failed to have regard to its setting in the landscape in terms of scale, siting and elevated nature.

The second reason for the planning refusal was possible adverse effects to nearby homes and road users from the glare of the panels.

The final reason for the refusal was the council felt that 'inadequate information has been submitted in connection with the application in order for the Planning Authority to fully assess the environmental impacts of the proposed development on water quality and wintering waterfowl arising from the grid connection proposals.'

Four submissions were received from members of the public in respect of the application for the solar farm at Monafin. These came from Thomas Keane, Glengary House, Monafin; Martin and Catherine Canavan, Borodale, Monafin; Elizabeth and Pat Fitzgerald, Monafin and John and Siobhan Bolger, Monafin.

Wexford County Council said the development would be 'contrary to proper and the sustainable development of the area'. It said that 'the proposed development due to its scale, siting and elevated nature of the site fails to have regard to its setting in the landscape and would have an adverse effect on the visual amenity of the area'.

In addition the council also said it is 'not satisfied that it has been adequately demonstrated, given the absence of any natural screening, the orientation of the arrays and the topography of the land, that the dwellings to the west of the site will not be adversely effected by glint from the proposed development.'

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