An Bord Pleanála approval for Tipperary solar farm

An Bord Pleanála (ABP) has given final approval for the development of a new solar farm in Co. Tipperary.

John Fogarty has secured planning permission for the solar farm on 8.3ha of agricultural land at Lisbrien, Nenagh.

The solar farm development comprises:
  • Provision of a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel array consisting of 22,500m² of solar panels on ground mounted steel frames;
  • Two electricity control cabins;
  • Four inverter units (to convert current generated from DC to AC);
  • Underground cable ducts;
  • Hardstanding area, boundary security fence;
  • Site entrance and access;
  • Landscaping;
  • CCTV and all associated site works.

The solar farm will generate a maximum of up to 4.96 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity once the site becomes fully operational. The energy is then expected to be exported to the national grid.

Planning permission and ABP appeal

Tipperary County Council had initially granted planning permission for the development with conditions attached, but this had been appealed to the higher planning authority by a third party.

Objectors to the solar farm lodged submissions with the local authority and ABP citing concerns about the health impact of the farm, environmental consequences and the visual effect.

The appeal to ABP raised concerns about ‘glint and glare’ from the solar panels claiming it would cause “nuisance” for local residents and the planting of trees to mitigate such glint and glare had not been proposed.

The appeal also argued that the local road network would not be able to facilitate construction traffic.

In response, the applicant stated that information from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) says that solar PV is specifically designed to “absorb light rather than reflect it; glint and glare is therefore a relatively rare issue and is site specific”.

ABP decision

The higher planning authority assessed the application and the grounds for appeal and gave the green light for the solar farm at Lisbrien, Co. Tipperary.

The board ruled that the development “would not have an unacceptable impact on the character of the landscape or on cultural or archaeological heritage; would not seriously injure the visual and residential amenities of the area” and “would be acceptable in terms of public health, traffic safety and convenience”.

ABP added that the solar farm would make a “positive contribution to Ireland’s requirements for renewable energy”.

Conditions

The solar farm can go ahead in Tipperary provided there is adherence to 14 planning conditions.

One condition stipulates that the developer must hire a suitably qualified archaeologist to monitor all topsoil stripping and ground disturbance.

Also, before work on the solar farm begins, details of the structures of the security fence, showing provision for the movement of mammals at regular intervals along the perimeter of the site, must be submitted to and agreed with the planning authority.