Renewable Energy – Solar Farms

In June 2018, McCutcheon Halley secured planning permission for a 5 MW solar farm comprising approximately 22,200 photovoltaic panels on ground mounted frames within a site area of 10.18 hectares, 2 no. single storey inverter/transformer stations, 1 no. single storey delivery station, security fencing, CCTV, and all associated ancillary development works at Derrigra West, Ballineen, Co. Cork (Cork County Council Planning Reg. 17/724).

Acting as Planning Lead and Project Coordinator, McCutcheon Halley Planning were responsible for all planning aspects of the project from inception and were instrumental in the site selection process. This involved completing detailed site suitability and feasibility assessments on a number of sites in the surrounding area. The subject site was selected based on key technical, planning, and environmental considerations. Its south facing aspect and absence of constraining factors, make it ideal for a solar PV array. Its designed position set back from the main road network means that any potential impacts on the surrounding residents during the operational phase will be minimal. The nearest residential property is c.17.5m from proposed arrays to the south, with significant levels of existing mature planting and natural contours, resulting in a development that is well screened from many of the surrounding areas.

Prior to the lodgement of the planning application, formal pre-planning discussions were held with the Planning Authority and community engagement was undertaken to inform local residents about the planned project. The submitted planning application addressed all the key issues of the proposed development and was accompanied by the following detailed assessments:

  • A Planning Statement addressing the key issues of the proposed development, clearly outlining the planning approach and merits of the project in a manner that is easily understood by the Planning Authority and any potential third party observers;
  • A Landscape and Visual Assessment which confirmed that the proposal will not give rise to adverse impacts on the landscape character of the area;
  • An Ecological Impact Assessment and an AA Screening Reportwhich objectively concluded that the proposal will not result in any significant effects in relation to designated Natura 2000 sites;
  • An Archaeological, Architectural and Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment which confirmed that there are no archaeological and/or heritage designations within the subject site, and the construction of the solar panel mounts has a minimal physical intrusive impact on the site;
  • A Traffic Analysis confirming that the site can be suitably accessed from the R586 with a 15.4m HGV during the construction phase; and
  • A Construction Management Plan outlining the details in relation to the traffic management measures to be implemented on site to prevent any potential impacts on the surrounding environment, and to ensure the construction related activities on the site are executed in a safe and controlled manner and to minimise disruption and impact on the amenities in the area.

The absence of third-party observations and the decision by Cork County Council to grant planning permission vindicates the planning approach taken, affirming what can be achieved through appropriate site selection and a targeted approach to addressing key issues.

McCutcheon Halley are Amarenco Solar Ltd.’s retained planning consultants for solar PV developments throughout the country. We provide professional planning and environmental consultation services at all stages of the projects from inception and through the planning application process, as well as at appeal and/or compliance stages if required. To date, we have secured planning permission for 11 no. solar farms on behalf of Amarenco Solar Ltd.