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Cllr is ‘absolutely disgusted' with lack of national guidelines for solar farms

May 11th, 2017 11:50 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Kevin Murphy.

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A KINSALE-based councillor has said he is ‘absolutely disgusted’ with the response from the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment over the issue of solar farms. 

Cork County Council passed a motion last February calling for a moratorium on solar farms in the county until national guidelines were put in place. 

As a result, a letter was sent to the Department outlining the Council’s concerns.

At a recent meeting of Cork County Council, Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) called for the reply to be sent back.

‘I’m absolutely disgusted with the response and in the letter it says there are no specific guidelines in place in respect of solar energy development. 

‘Minister Denis Naughten says at the end of the letter that he is satisfied that the planning code is sufficiently robust to facilitate the assessment of individual planning permission applications for solar development and I don’t agree with that,’ said Cllr Murphy.

‘The only consolation is the last paragraph in the letter which says that the matter will be kept
 under review.’

Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) supported the call for the reply to be sent back.

‘We are not discouraging solar farm developments, but we just want to control it and guidelines would provide more clarity. The recent windfarm court case shows what happens when there are no guidelines. We should write back to the Minister and maybe our own Environment Special Purposes Committee (SPC) should look at it,’ said Cllr McCarthy.

‘Something needs to be done about it as there were 22 planning applications for such developments submitted to the planning department up to last October.’

Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) pointed out that when it came to applications for windfarms the Council was operating pilot guidelines and said they should adopt similar ones for solar farms, too.

Cllr Des O’Grady (SF) supported the proposal for pilot guidelines and said it was very important that Cork County Council have guidelines in place.

However, Council chief executive Tim Lucey said that planning permission for solar farms can be refused if the Council feels they are inappropriate and pointed out that Cork County Council shouldn’t have to develop guidelines when there are no national guidelines in place.

An Bord Pleanála recently granted planning permission, subject to certain conditions, to Green Mills Energy Ltd for a 32-acre solar farm in Farrangalway outside Kinsale, against its own inspector’s report. 

Cork County Council had granted planning permission to the development and this was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by concerned residents living in the area.

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