“We are being asked to give up prime farmland for a sea of ​​glass”

Plans for a 300-acre solar farm in the Ardcath area have met with strong opposition from local residents who say the proposal will negatively impact the character of the area due to the elevation of the site propose.

Obton Limited is seeking ten year planning permission to construct and complete a solar PV development in Hawkinstown, Riverstown, Scatternagh, Balgeeth, Ardcath, Co Meath. The proposed solar farm would be operational for a period of 35 years.

Local residents have held a number of meetings on the proposal and are preparing submissions outlining their objections to the plans. They say they’re not opposed to solar farms, but it’s the wrong place and say the development would have a massive visual impact on homes in the area.

This is the second solar farm proposal within a 4km radius with a separate proposal currently under construction in Hilltown.

Eoin O’Sullivan, who grew up in Ardcath and recently built his own house, said their biggest problem was the geographical height of the site. “It’s on high ground where it will be seen 15 to 20 houses away. It’s a huge visual disturbance. It will have a negative effect on the character of the area and is in the wrong place.

“If accepted, this will be the second 300-acre solar farm within a 4km radius, as another is currently under construction in Hilltown, on the opposite side of Pudden Hill from Ardcath’s proposal.” Mr O’Sullivan said the solar farm developers were targeting an existing network of 110kv cables that run through the area and represent a facility to connect to the national grid.

“The difference between the two areas is that the Hilltown Solar Farm is out of sight, but Ardcath’s more recent proposal represents a massive visual disturbance to residents across the region and if accepted I believe it will will set a whole new precedent for planning law. the country like Balgeeth is 120m above sea level and Hawkinstown 90m above sea level with many residents overseeing the area in question.

Locals also say that at a time when farmers are being encouraged to farm to tackle food shortages, this proposal would see good farmland devoted to solar panels.

“This year, the government asked farmers to sow maize and wheat on their land to solve the availability problem due to the war in Ukraine. Here, we’re giving up prime farmland and offering to cover it in a sea of ​​glass for years to come. Surely there are better suited marginal lands that would be more appropriate. An acre of land can produce five tons of corn per year, so this area could potentially produce 1,500 tons of corn per year to help deal with the crisis. »

Eoin also said the proposal would be catastrophic for the habitat of a number of protected species in the area, including yellow hammerheads, partridges, owls and pine martens.

Another resident, Ambrose O’Sullivan, said: ‘We are not against solar panels, but we are against the proximity of these solar panels to our homes and the amount of them. One of County Meath’s most scenic areas will be destroyed with glass for the next 40 years.

He added that at a time of calls to grow more grain and food, ‘it is ridiculous to put so many acres of good farmland in Co Meath into solar panels’ and said the region was “saturated” with solar farm projects. with four of them in the general area.

Submissions can be made until May 31 with a decision to be made by Meath County Council on June 21.

Amalia H. Mercado