Council gives green light to Clonfad solar farm

Photo shows, file photo of a solar farm.

Westmeath County Council has granted planning permission for what will be one of the largest solar farms in the country.

Dublin based developer JBM Solar Developments Ltd has been given the green light for a solar farm on a 240 hectare (620 acre) site, consisting of two plots of land, on the townlands of Clonfad, Enniscoffey, Hightown, Lowtown, Pass of Kilbride and Rattin.

According to the planning application submitted by JBM Solar in June, the development will consist of solar PV panels on mounted frames, underground cabling and ducting, 40 inverter/transformer units, a customer control building, a communications and storage building, perimeter security fencing and CCTV cameras. The application also includes details for the widening of a section of road to facilitate construction access.

When operational, the solar farm will generate enough electricity to power 25,000 homes, JBM claim.

The council received over 20 submissions relating to the application, most of which were objections from residents living in the vicinity. In their submissions locals expressed concerns about a number of issues, including the impact that the development would have on property prices, its scale, the visual impact on the landscape and the lack of government guidelines on solar farm development.

Meanwhile, An Bord Pleanála has overturned the council's decision to grant planning permission for a house at Rattin, Kinnegad.

In June, the council had granted Amanda Judge and Finian Newman permission to build a dormer style house. However, the decision was appealed by Angelika de Barra, Rattin, who noted that most of the site was located within a flood zone.

Outlining its reasons for overturning the council's decision to grant planning, An Bord Pleanála said that the development “would propose an unacceptable risk of flooding”.

The planning authority also stated that it was “not satisfied that the applicant has a demonstrable economic or social need to live in this area”.

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