Solar farm company lodges Laois planning appeals

A solar company granted permission by Laois County Council to construct two solar farms has lodged appeals with An Bord Pleanala against certain conditions imposed by the local authority.

JBM Solar Developments Ltd has received permission to build solar PV energy developments at Sronagh, Mountmellick, for ten years, as well as one at Rathleague, Portlaoise.

The appeals relate to solar PV energy developments comprising the installation of photovoltaic panels on ground-mounted frames or support structures, underground cabling, two sub-stations, and access roads.

20 conditions were imposed for each development.

The developer was asked by Laois County Council to lodge a cash deposit of €100,000 on each application, before starting work, to secure the satisfactory reinstatement of the site.

Approval for the Mountmellick development was granted, despite the objections of two local residents, Thomas and Margaret Lalor, who reportedly said that such a development could pose a potential hazard to the pilots who fly very low from a nearby airfield.

It was also reported in local media outlets that they feared that residents of nearby houses would be affected by “glint and glare” from the development.

Local County Councillor Paddy Bracken is also understood to have objected to the Mountmellick plans, maintaining that the site was too close to existing houses and roads.

It is understood that objections were not lodged against the Rathleague, Portlaoise, development.

David Cramer, Director, JBM Solar Ireland, said the company had a policy of not commenting on ongoing planning applications, including associated appeals.

A decision from An Bord Pleanala on the Rathleague appeal is expected by July 25, and by July 27 on the Mountmellick case.

Eimear Cotter of Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEAI) said it supported a diverse mix of renewable energy technologies.

In this context, we see a role for suitably-sited and well-designed, ground-mounted solar developments in contributing to the decarbonisation of Ireland’s energy supply.

She said the SEAI supports research and development across all energy efficiency and renewable energy, including solar.

“One recent piece of research examined the considerations around planning and development for utility-scale solar in Ireland.

“This research and other analysis is provided to inform the evidence base and allow for robust policy development in this area,” she concluded.