Decision due on Stradbally solar farm

Decision due on Stradbally solar farm

by Ryan Dunne @laoisnews

A decision is due this week from Laois County Council on planning permission for a new solar farm in the Stradbally area, which has attracted objections from a number of nearby residents who fear the destruction of their rural landscape.

Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd has applied for permission for the construction, operation and decommissioning of a photovoltaic solar farm, covering the townlands of Bigbog, Coolnabacky, Esker, Money Lower and Loughteeog, Stradbally.

The farm will comprise photovoltaic panels on ground mounted frames, as well as substations, transformers and assorted buildings, and landscaping.

However, numerous submissions have been made to the council objecting to the plans.

Colm Fingleton, Powelstown House, Stradbally, said that the development is excessive in size for a rural location and would have a devastating effect on the landscape.

He also pointed out that the applicant wants to connect the solar farm to the Coolnabacca substation, but Eirgrid have said that this substation is not to facilitate the connection of renewables.

Fand Cooney, Powelstown, Ratheniska, Stradbally, made two submissions, saying in her second that further information provided by the applicant does not address her issues.

“Lightsource simply seems to bat away the issues… effectively disowning the concerns,” she said.

She raised concerns over noise and pollutants, described the application as premature pending a Renewable Energy Strategy, and claimed that site notices were placed in locations invisible to the vast majority of local citizens.

Gerard Lowry, Munny, Stradbally, whose house and farmyard are within 100m of the proposed development, feared the devaluation of his property and raised concerns over the visual effect of the development, as well as the possible contamination of the aquifer in Coolnabacky.

Pat and Marie Ramsbottom, Ballygormill, Timahoe, Portlaoise, said that the changes planned for their rural community are larger than any project and expressed fears for the health and wellbeing of their families.

John Liam Wall, Loughteague, Stradbally, was concerned about the quality of the water scheme; Henry and Elizabeth Ramsbottom, Moore Valley, Timahoe, Portlaoise, said the development was not suitable for a rural area; and John and Anne Lowry, Loughteague, Stradbally, said the development would be the dominant feature in the rural landscape and would be more suitable in peatlands as outlined by the council’s development plan.

Jim, Mary, Amanda, Michelle and James Lowry, Moorevalley, Timahoe, raised concerns over water contamination and the visual effect of the solar farm; while John Lowry, for the Ratheniska Substation Action Group, said the application is not complete as no details of the grid connection have been provided. A decision is due from Laois County Council by April 3.