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MP intervenes over County Antrim solar farm

Words: Roger Milne
Solar panels / Shutterstock

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr has intervened over a proposed solar farm earmarked for land east of the villages of Kells and Connor, which straddles the boundary between Mid and East Antrim and Antrim and Newtownabbey borough councils.

The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) was due to hold a hearing about the project in May, but this was deferred because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The North Antrim MP wants the hearing to be as inclusive and open as possible because of the controversy surrounding the project proposed by green power company Elgin Energy EsCo Ltd.

The Department for Infrastructure issued a notice of opinion to approve the regionally significant scheme for a 22.5-megawatt facility last year.  

Previously, the department had objected to an earlier and larger version of the scheme because of visual, noise and traffic issues. The project had attracted more than 1,000 objections. Both local planning authorities requested a hearing from the PAC.  

Paisley said: “Given the importance of the solar farm application and the impact it will have on the area, I believe it is essential that the PAC hearing takes places in an open and transparent manner and in a way that enables the entire community who have views either way on this are able to follow and participate.”

The commission has yet to announce either a date or the arrangements for the deferred hearing. It has recently developed a protocol to be used to facilitate remote hearings pending the lifting of restrictions on public gatherings.

The department told The Planner that a final decision on the solar farm must wait until it had received a report from the commission following a hearing.

Image credit | Shutterstock