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Solar farm plans unveiled

Solar power
HARNESSING Strabane’s sunshine may not seem like the smartest business strategy but that is exactly what one company intends to do.

Energy giant ESB Ireland has just unveiled plans to establish a solar farm at Carrickatane near Dunamanagh. The proposed farm will have a power output of 4.1megawatt per year – enough electricity to power 1,250 households.

Currently there is only one operational solar farm in Northern Ireland, that is located near Belfast International Airport. ESB says that if given the go ahead, the development outside Strabane would “represent a significant enhancement of solar capacity in the Northern Irish energy sector”. 

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ESB already owns both Carrickatane and Curryfree Wind Farms and part of the solar farm will be located within the already existing Carrickatane development.

The farm will remain in place for between 25 and 30 years after which all equipment will be removed and the land reverted back to a grazing site.

Urging Derry City and Strabane District Council to give its proposal the green light, ESB said that rigorous environmental studies had already been carried out, including the potential impact on the heath and bog habitats unique to the Sperrins.

The company also pointed out that a public information day had taken place and that the feedback from that had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

A cultural heritage assessment has also been undertaken and again no concerns raised, according to the energy company.

“A cultural heritage assessment of the subject site has been prepared and that assessment concludes that there are no archaeological monuments, industrial archaeological sites or listed buildings located within the proposed development area and no artefacts of historical/archaeological interest have been reported as being recovered from the site or environs,” a spokesperson for ESB told Derry City and Strabane District Council.

“The proposed development is a solar farm with a power output of 4.1MW per annum which is an electricity equivalent output to the power requirements of 1,250 typical households per year. It represents a significant step in the diversification of the electricity generation profile of Northern Ireland which is essential in meeting targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. 

“The subject site is a greenfield site in agricultural use but is adjacent to a recently developed wind farm and its associated electricity grid infrastructure. The proposed development will be temporary and reversion to agricultural use can take place immediately after development decommissioning. 

“The proposed development has been subject to robust environmental assessment and those have shown that it will not have any significant adverse impacts on the receiving environment, including any designated habitats.  

“Where appropriate mitigation measures have been identified and integrated into project design,” ESB added.

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