Increase solar contributions charge motion defeated
CONCERN was expressed that too many solar farms are being granted planning permission.
Cllr Michael Whelan asked how much in council contributions solar farms bring. ‘What kind of megawatts are we dealing with?’ he asked.
Director of Services for Economic Development Tony Larkin said: ‘We have maintained the overall charging approach in line with the old scheme. There are no new rates except where there were different categories where the same rates were applied. The charge relates to the impact on infrastructure. I would counsel against using the charging regime to achieve refusals. You can’t just have punitive levies to give the effect that noone can apply.’
Cllr Whelan proposed for the council to increase the amount payable.
‘These companies are coming in with little consultation with the community and get their planning permission.’
Cllr Malcolm Byrne said: ‘I don’t think we should look at penalising solar energy and it’s production so I would oppose it.’
Insisting that he wasn’t against solar energy, Cllr Whelan said: ‘The fact that solar farms take up to eight or nine hectares of glass. It’s not nice looking out at eight hectares of glass. I don’t think there is a necessity for that. These companies are coming in and taking over areas. There are other ways of getting solar energy like when we are building car parks and buildings.’
Cllr Whelan said the council’s planning policy on solar farms is the same as its wind turbine energy policy.
‘There is no national policy. That is why it is falling down. We have to stop these guys coming in and fishing and taking over the countryside.’
Cllr Larry O’Brien said the New Ross district is scourged with applications for solar farms. ‘A lot of applications have been appealed and the granted but no applications have gone ahead. The problem is the landlord ends up tied and he caan’t do anything with the land. A lot of people have gotten caught and have signed.’
The Director of Services for Economic Development said he would like the charges to remain the same. ‘It would be useful to have the same charges for solar farms and wind turbines.’
Cllr Jim Moore said the matter has been debated at special policy committee level. He asked for detail on how many submissions have been made to the local authority about solar farms.
The motion was defeated.
Cllr Michael Whelan.