By Gordon Deegan

A Larry Goodman-owned organic meat producer, Good Herdsmen, has emerged as one of 26 parties to appeal against a grant of permission for a €30 million solar farm in Co. Tipperary.

Last month, Tipperary County Council granted planning permission to Renewable Energy Systems for the development of the solar farm at Rathduff, Thomastown Demesne South, Co. Tipperary.

The proposed location is 3km from Bansha village and almost 8km east of Tipperary town.

The council gave the green light for the project after its case planner concluded that the project would not have an adverse impact on the character of the area, or of adjoining properties in the vicinity of the site. 

Over 70 objections were lodged against the scheme, with 26 parties now appealing the council decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Founder of Good Herdsmen John Purcell (who continued in the role of managing director at the company after it was purchased by Goodman’s ABP in 2017) operates his 350ac organic farm adjacent to the proposed site of the solar farm.

He has claimed in an objection that it “will have an adverse effect on my business”.

Purcell said that the farm plays a key role in the supply chain of organic livestock into national and international markets.

Speaking about the effect the proposed solar farm would have, he said: “It destroys what we have tried to achieve over the last 22 years and kills a vision I have for my farm, for my sons and future generations.”

Expanding on his objection, Purcell claimed that the solar panels proposed “have the potential to cause a catastrophic visual impact and will ruin the image that nature and Good Herdsmen have established, and worked hard to create”.

According to Purcell, Good Herdsmen records annual revenues of €18 million, and is a net contributor to the local economy of €5 million in wages, rates, and payments to local contractors and local farmers.

ABP’s organic beef brand Good Herdsmen operates a factory employing 20 in Cahir, with a further six employed on the organic farm and its operations.

Purcell has claimed that the promoters of the solar farm propose to convert 107ac of ‘Golden Vale’ land “into a sea of plastic and metal panels”.

In his objection, Purcell enclosed a letter from a senior figure in Bord Bia.

Speaking of the Purcell’s farm, the Bord Bia representative stated: “It truly represents the ultimate shop window for the Irish beef sector. With this in mind, I would implore that any developments to the surrounding landscape would not detract from this experience.”

Solar farm planning statement

A planning statement lodged with the application states that the solar farm will produce 25MW of renewable energy, sufficient to power 6,406 homes per year.

The planning statement states that the project will help Co. Tipperary fulfil its aims of increased renewable energy production and assist in the national effort to achieve legally binding renewable energy targets.

The planning statement outlines that the proposed development is deemed to have struck an acceptable balance between renewable energy production and all relevant planning and environmental considerations.

Others to appeal the council decision include Margaret Kennedy; Caroline and John Bourke; Caitriona Bn Ui Annraghain; Denis Pollard Jnr; South Tipperary Solar Farm Concern Group; Maria Bailey; Michael and Mary Joyce; Chris Bailey; VESI Environmental Limited; and Carol, Emma and Daisy Welsh.

A decision is due on the appeals at the end of August.