Controversial Roscrea solar farm going ahead

Thursday, 3 May 2018

A CONTENTIOUS solar farm development near Roscrea, which will be 50 times the size of Semple Stadium when completed, has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanala.
The project caused considerable upset among the small community of Knock when first proposed last year, where people from the tiny village and surrounding areas were divided about the potential negative impact it may have on their area and objections were lodged with the local authority.
Local representatives have described a "mixed reaction" this week among local people after hearing the news that despite objections the project will go ahead.
The community are not strangers to large scale developments on their doorstep, after the construction of the M7 motorway in 2008, where traffic zips by within earshot of the village and the creation of the Monaincha wind-farm and other projects.
The 147-acre solar-farm, which will produce enough wattage to power over 5,000 homes, will see the erection on bogland of several thousand solar panels in a vast array that stands approximately five-foot from ground level.
Recently the planning board granted permission to push ahead with the project, despite the objection of a group of local people under the banner the Dennymore Solar Farm Concern Group.
In July last year the company funding the solar-farm's construction, IGP Solar, was granted permission to build a 58.11 hectare array of solar photovoltaic panels on Leonard's Bog subject to 14 conditions.
The decision was objected to by the Dennymore Concern Group in August, who lodged an appeal on the grounds the facility fails to support local renewable energy and would inflict a negative impact on the environment and landscape of the area.
The Concern Group also expressed concern about glint, where sunlight reflecting from the panels could have a startling affect on people and animals.
However, on Tuesday week last (April 24) the planning board supported the local authority's decision to grant permission and imposed several new conditions on the development.
The facility will have a lifespan of approximately 30-years and will also feature a small ESB maintenance facility. It will run adjacent to the M7 motorway and be fenced against deer and livestock entering the site.
The new conditions imposed on the project will see the creation of an acoustic barrier and stipulate that no artificial lighting is permitted on the site and that CCTV cameras must only film the site and not capture footage from adjoining properties or the road.
Describing the reaction among local people as "mixed," local Councillor Michael Smith (FF) said people have "genuine concerns" about the impact the solar farm will have on their area.
“The local group that lodged the appeal are decent, genuine people who are concerned about their local environment and landscape - I don't believe you could look at this application in isolation without the knowledge of the huge infrastructural developments in their area in the last 15 years," Cllr Smith said.
“The construction of the M7 motorway carved up portions of land which were held in the same family for generations. The wind turbines which have been erected have also had an impact on this area and now we have the decision for the construction of a solar-farm - without doubt this small little community has seen major developments," Cllr Smith added.
“I was delighted to have secured €50,000 for community groups in the area who work so tirelessly for this area and I will be holding a public meeting in the coming weeks to set up a community forum - we must ensure this money is used to benefit all the people from the area," Cllr. Smith said.


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