An Bord Pleanála dismisses solar energy farm appeal

A large solar energy farm in west Waterford will proceed on farmland after An Bord Pleanála dismissed an appeal by a family living close by.
An Bord Pleanála dismisses solar energy farm appeal

Highfield Solar Ltd had secured 10-year conditional planning last July to construct the farm on 70 acres of grazing land at Drumroe, near Cappoquinn, with a 25-year operational period.

The decision was appealed by Dennis and Catherine Butcher, whose farm sits within 100m of the proposed development.

They challenged Waterford City and County Council’s use of guidance relating to wind farms and argued it did not adequately address either the visual or construction impact.

They further contested permission was granted without a relevant national or local strategy on solar energy and claimed an environmental impact assessment should have been conducted.

They argued the potential impact of glint and glare on their property was not addressed and questioned the likely use of the energy.

The couple expressed concerns over health and safety and proposed access points and were dissatisfied with a lack of information on surface water management and electromagnetic field (EMF) issues.

The Dublin company refuted the concerns, insisting the development complied within Waterford’s Renewable Energy Strategy 2016-18.

The company said a visual impact assessment was conducted and sheep grazing would ensure balanced use of the land. The farm, said Highfield Solar, would connect to the national grid and the EMFs would be lower than most household devices.

A bord inspector recommended that no panel be placed within 100m of the appellants’ property and trees planted to prevent possible glare or glint on their property.

The company is also awaiting an appeal against a solar farm permission on a planned solar farm in Kilmeaden, while Waterford Council is seeking further information on a further development near Portlaw.

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