Council wants planning steer on solar farms

December 16th, 2016 7:15 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The Council wants to have strong guidelines for solar farms

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CORK County Council plans to write to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government to highlight the lack of planning guidelines in relation to solar farms.

A motion from the Bandon/ Kinsale Municipal District, proposing a moratorium on solar farms until such guidelines are issued, was passed by councillors at a meeting of Cork County Council last week.

Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said that people living near Jagoes Mills in Kinsale are currently appealing Cork County Council’s decision to grant planning for a 20-acre solar farm in the area, and they are demanding that national guidelines be put in place.

‘These people are supportive of renewable energy but there are national guidelines for wind and wave energy projects, but not for solar. 

These people were truly bypassed and they feel angry that because there are no guidelines in place, the project got planning and it’s only the start of major solar farm proposals for the county,’ said Cllr Murphy.

Cllr Rachel McCarthy (SF) said she commended the Jagoes Mills Action Group (JMAC) for their work and felt that the scale of solar farm applications can far exceed what can be delivered.

‘We already had this problem with wind turbine farms before and we don’t want the same thing for solar farms because there are no regulations in place,’ said the Sinn Féin councillor. Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said there was also a need to examine the agricultural land being proposed for such developments and added that solar farms should only be planned for marginal land.

‘It’s a damning indictment of the Department that there are no guidelines in place and there should be no murkiness in this,’ said Cllr Coughlan.

Cllr Aidan Lombard (FG) said it seems ‘ludicrous’ that the Council has guidelines for other developments but
not for solar farms.

‘It’s important that we put pressure on the Minister to put guidelines in place,’ said Cllr Lombard.

Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said it was a timely motion given the scale of developments and it was a case of the ‘cart before the horse’ as guidelines were not in place.

Cllr Paul Hayes (SF), who is a member Sustainability Clonakilty, said that there is ‘clearly a gaping hole in legislation’ which in effect has aggravated local communities and projects of this scale will cause problems.

Chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said he was satisfied that even without guidelines from the department, his planning staff dealt with solar farm applications properly.

County Mayor Cllr Seamus McGrath said it was only fair and proper to seek guidelines on solar farms and the Council would write to the Department calling for a moratorium on solar farms until guidelines are in place.

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