Council powerless to halt growth of solar farms 15/09/16 : the chronicle.ie

Council powerless to halt growth of solar farms 15/09/16

| September 15, 2016

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Thousands of acres of top class farm land in Co. Wexford could be turned into solar farms for the generation of electricity and the Co. Council is powerless to stop the development despite concerns over the big increase in the number of applications for solar farms in recent times.

The main problem is that there are no national policy guidelines on the farms and the Council has yet to develop a formal policy of its own on the developments.

This week Fine Gael councillor John Hegarty proposed that the Council move ahead and formulate its own policy in the absence of any national directives.

However, despite strong support for his proposal, it could be some time before any policy gets legal effect because it would have to be adopted into the County Development Plan and that it something which can be done overnight, councillors were told.

Cllr. Hegarty said he did not wish to criticise the planning department of the Council but given the big increase in applications there needed to be a formal policy.

While the Council does have some informal guidelines to follow when dealing with the applications there was agreement at this week’s meeting of the Council that proper procedures had to be put in place.

The big problem is that such solar energy operations are likely to be clustered in particular locations around the county and this could give rise to problems for local residents.

And Cllr. Johnny Mythen pointed out that the solar operations would require heavy infrastructure to carry the power they generated to where it was required and this would have to be taken into consideration as part of any guidelines.

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