CONCERN is mounting over plans to construct a 500 acre solar farm in Mid County Waterford.
The controversial proposal is centered on the area of Rathnaskillogue near Stradbally and Bonmahon on the Copper Coast – an area which recently fought plans to erect giant wind turbines.
Highfield Solar Ltd. is to stage a public information meeting on its proposal today (Tuesday).
A Pre-Application Consultation Request was lodged with An Bord Pleanála by Highfield Solar Ltd. last year, with the planning body last week deeming that the request is a Strategic Infrastructure Development.
The proposal includes the construction of a 110kV Gas Insulated Switchgear (GIS) station and IPP Control Building with associated compounds.
However, many locals are already fearful over the impact such a proposal would have in the area.
Plans appear to already be afoot within the local community to challenge the proposal if necessary.
Local resident and community activist Ann Troy, who is an Independent candidate in the upcoming local elections, says the proposal is “totally unacceptableʺ and an “insult to the communityʺ.
“Our local communities are once again astounded in relation to this recent news that plans may be in the pipeline to industrialise our local rural areas with a largescale commercial development,” she said.
“This is totally unacceptable and an insult to us as a community. Communities countrywide have suffered and battled in similar situations, and yet no lessons have been learned.ʺ
She says that more than 86 applications have been granted for solar farms of varying size and acreage around County Waterford. ‘Yet, to date, not one of them is operational. One would have to ask why this is the case. Subsidies and public fund monies are not yet in place for solar farms. What comes to mind is the introduction of the newly discussed carbon tax, coming on top of an already heavily taxed population. We can only speculate what direction this new tax will follow. We await developments.ʺ
She says the situation and public attitudes towards this latest proposal are being closely monitored.
“I will of course be supporting our communities going forward in whatever decisions or actions that may arise or develop from this situation,” she said.“It is early days. Concerns and worries will surely reverberate and echo loudly in our local communities.” In 2017, Ann Troy was to the forefront during the campaign to fight the erection of giant wind turbines in the local area which had generated fury within the local community.
Numerous community meetings and protests were stage over the proposal from BSB Community Energy Ltd.
Highfield Solar Ltd. is to stage a public information evening on the latest proposal for the area this evening (Tuesday) in the Rainbow Hall, Kilmacthomas from 4pm-7pm.
On its website, the company states that it works exclusively within Ireland and is focused on the development of ground-mounted solar PV energy parks. “Our in-house team works at all levels of project development from initial site identification through planning and construction and on to operational management,” the website states. “Careful site selection is the foundation of our business and we only develop sites that we believe will become fully operational solar parks. Building good relationships with landowners is the most important part of site selection and we ensure that we keep landowners fully involved throughout the development process.”