The largest solar farm ever in Kilkenny is being planned for Ballytobin outside of Callan town.
It comes at a time when the country's main farming organisation, the IFA has warned farmers to be wary of signing contracts with solar companies.
The 25 acre installation is being promoted by the Camphill Community who already have a number of cool environmental projects up and running, including the region's first ever biodigester and an innovative reed water filtration system.
A planning application for the project which will generate 5MW of power for export to the national grid has been submitted to Kilkenny County Council.
They also want to construct the infrastructure to support the farm, including an on-site substation with grid systems services and four inverters and transformers. The proposed development will include over 400 metres of new site tracks, cable ducting, fencing and security camera poles site entrance and ancillary works. The applications has been accompanied by a Natural Impact Statement (NIS).
An appropriate period of 10 years is sought, with an operational life of up to 30 years after the date of commission. IFA Renewables Project Team Chairman, Inistioge man, James Murphy has restated his call on landowners approached by solar development companies to think long and hard before advancing negotiations or signing further contracts.
“The recent statement by Energy Minister Denis Naughten that his Department is unlikely to provide any significant support for solar energy in the short term, raises significant concerns for the many farmers who have committed to solar energy contracts.”
“Of even greater concern is the fact landowners continue to be approached to sign contracts, with Government now indicating that it may be the middle of 2017 before there is any clarity on the level of tariff or the number of megawatts that will be supported by this tariff.”
He expressed disappointment at the failure of Minister Naughten to set out any plan on the role of communities in future renewable projects. He said farmers should be consulted and offered an opportunity to become stakeholders in the development of renewable projects.
Government has a key role to play, whether through the tariff support mechanisms or planning policy”, he added.
James Murphy concluded by re-emphasising the need for farmers to get good independent legal advice before signing any contract.