Waterford Council approver planning for 270 acre solar farm

Waterford Council approver planning for 270 acre solar farm

Waterford Council has approved planning for one of the country’s largest solar farms in a scenic region of mid-Waterford.

Dublin-based Highfield Solar Ltd had sought 10-year permission for a development across four distinct land sections, spanning 270 acres in the county’s Copper Coast region.

There are 120 houses within a 500-metre boundary of a site nestling between Waterford greenway, Copper Coast Geopark and the Comeragh Mountains.

The nearest settlement is Tidy Towns old medal winner Stradbally village, some 800 metres from the development boundary.

The planning application drew 32 submissions from locals opposing the development.

Most objectors feared the farm would be out of sync with the agricultural, recreational and tourism profile of the area.

Three landowners in the region have submitted written consent to have the company apply for permission to site the farm on their properties.

Permission was granted with 22 conditions.

Community activist Anne Troy said locals are “gutted” but believes that “not everyone realises the scale” of the development.

“Whichever direction you take, it will be a sea of glass, visible from both Mahon Falls and Waterford greenway,” she said.

The activist, who has campaigned successfully against two windfarm proposals in the region, believes the planning will be appealed to Bord Pleanála.

Ms Troy says her concerns are not derived merely from landscape or visual factors, claiming she is responding to health fears for her grandchildren.

“We are talking about battery packs, power stations and 100 KW lines,” she said. “Highfield Solar want to store 110 batteries in steel containers. They haven’t sought planning for a substation, which means accessing the national grid via overhead lines”.

Highfield Solar already had planning for a 27 acre solar farm in in Kilmacthomas, after Bord Pleanála overturned the council’s planning refusal earlier this year.

That site rests on a busy junction between the old and new N25 route, bringing TII objections on the grounds of possible glare on motorists.

The latest permission comes weeks after Bord Pleanála upheld planning granted by Waterford Council for another solar farm in the Comeragh area.

That development saw Dublin-based BNRGN Mothel Ltd also seek a 10-year permission, with a view to building a solar farm on two sites totalling 95 acres, with a projected lifespan of 30 years.

The company also received permission for a 110 KV substation by which the farm will connect to the national grid.

Planning again included 22 conditions.

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