A pilot's-eye view of Limetree Airfield.
The glint and the glare of a new solar farm in Mountmellick could pose a danger to the low-flying pilots of Laois.
So it was claimed by two residents of Derryguile, objecting to plans by JBM Solar Developments Limited to construct a solar PV energy development at the townland of Sronagh, Mountmellick.
Thomas and Margaret Lalor point out that there is a small airport, Limetree Airfield, to the east of the site for people who fly as a hobby, and the new solar farm could pose a potential hazard for these pilots who fly “very low around this area”.
They said that the company had given no guarantee that residents of nearby houses won’t be affected by the “glint and glare” from the solar farm, which will comprise of photovoltaic panels installed on ground mounted frames.
Laois County Councillor Paddy Bracken, from Garoon in Mountmellick, also objected to the plans, saying the proposed site was too close to existing houses and local roads.
He said the “glint and glare” was “a potential hazard for both adjacent residents and road users”.
Both the Lalors and Cllr Bracken also raised concerns over the potential risk to the security of the adjacent houses posed by this development, as there will be valuable equipment permanently on site which could entice thieves.
In response to the objections, JMB Solar Developments Limited said the potential for glint and glare is very low, as solar panels are designed to absorb rather than reflect light.
They said that solar arrays have been installed at other airports in the UK and Ireland, so panels can be installed within flight paths without a hazard to pilots.
They also said that the proposed security measures are “robust”, including security fencing, gates, and CCTV.
A decision on the planning application is due from Laois County Council by March 1 next.