National strategy required for solar farm developments

Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, is continuing to fight for national guidelines regarding the development of solar farms.

Senator Lombard said: “The last few years have seen huge increases in applications to build solar farms here in Ireland. It is worrying that no national strategy currently exists to ensure this industry develops in a sustainable manner.

“I have brought this issue to the attention of Seanad Eireann, and to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, and his Department a number of times.

“Last week I again brought a debate forward about creating a national strategy for solar farms, as I have been disappointed with the lack of progress towards what I believe is a very real concern.

“At the moment solar farm applications are being approved for sites next to substations due to proximity. This however is not taking into account other necessary factors and logistics.

“Issue such as proximity to housing, gradient of the site pertaining to water runoff, and appropriate elevation of the site regarding visual aesthetics, all affect the environment surrounding solar farms. These issues and more need to be assessed and accounted for in a national strategy that would guide appropriate planning and ensure the sustainability of the environment as well as the developing industry.

“Because there is no nation-wide focus to the development of this industry, we have an ad-hoc approach currently in place where each separate local authority makes different decisions based on their own geographical area.

“Developing solar farms is a national issue. There needs to be guidelines in place that enable a co-ordinated and sustainable, nation-wide development of this industry.

“When wind farms were first proposed in Ireland there was no framework to guide local authorities in planning their development, and the Government recognised the need to provide in this manner. The situation was assessed, guidelines designed and implemented, and now under review.

“Solar farms present the same challenge. Lacking a standard means that the industry will develop in a disorganised and unsustainable manner. I am hopeful that the need for national solar farm guidelines is soon recognised, assessed, and a strategy implemented.”

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