A stock image of a solar farm.

Planning bid for massive Offaly solar farm

Plans for one of the biggest solar farms yet in Offaly are set to be submitted to Offaly County Council shortly.

Harmony Solar Offaly Limited has signalled its intention to apply for permission for development at a circa 181-hectare site, split into three land parcels, in the Kilcormac area.

The development will consist of over one million square metres of solar photovoltaic panels in three sites within the townlands of Dovehill, Gortamuck, Curraghmore (Eglish By) and Freagh, all to the south west of the village of Kilcormac.

Harmony Solar will submit two separate applications for this project.

For the solar farm components, a planning application will be made to Offaly County Council.

A separate planning application will be made directly to An Bord Pleanála in due course, through the Strategic Infrastructure Development mechanism, for permission for a

compound with palisade fence and two overhead line masts. The planning board has already ruled that this element of the project constitutes strategic infrastructure.

The planning application for the solar farm is seeking permission for ten years and for a 40-year operational period for the development on three land parcels, West Parcel (Dovehill townland) c. 119.25 hectares, Central Parcel (Gortamuck & Curraghmore (Eglish By) townlands) c. 42.2 hectares and East Parcel (Gortamuck & Freagh townlands) c. 16.07 hectares.

Also sought is a route corridor of 3.5 hectares for an underground internal electrical cable connecting the West and Central Parcels to the East Parcel consisting of c. 3,859m underground cabling within the corridor of the L6042 ‘Rath Road’ public road. The project will involve 1,070,756 sq. metres of solar photovoltaic panels on ground mounted steel frames.

Installations of internal network cable comprise trenching for an underground medium voltage electrical cable and associated joint bays and infrastructure, for a distance of approximately 3,859 metres in length along the L6042 ‘Rath Road’ public road and approximately 661.5 metres within the solar farm lands.

The proposed solar farm will be broken into two phases. ‘Phase 1’ will consist of the development of the solar PV arrays located in the East and Central Parcels and on circa 52.67 hectares in the West Parcel. The second phase will consist of the development of the remainder of the solar PV arrays in rest of the West Parcel.

If successful in securing a contract through the Government’s Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) to sell the renewable electricity generated, the developer estimates there will be an annual Community Benefit Fund for the duration of the RESS contract.