Green light for €15 million solar farm in the Drum area

Photo: A stock photo view of solar panels in a the solar farm.

Roscommon County Council has cleared the way for the area's first-ever solar farm project in Drum to progress which could generate enough power for 10,000 homes.

The 30MW development, to be known as TDC Community Solar Park, spans over 173 acres in the townlands of Taduff East and West, Curraghleen and Creagh and involves nine local landowners.

Wexford Solar Ltd, which has partnered with Low Carbon in a bid to progress the development learned of the green light on July 9 last, subject to compliance with 20 separate planning conditions. It's unclear what the planning conditions cover as they are not yet published on the Roscommon County Council website.

The developers previously indicated that a “significant” number of jobs would be created during construction, and when up and running.

The development, the first of its kind in the Athlone area, will see the installation of large numbers of solar panels on the land which convert sunlight into electricity and would generally stand between two and a half and three metres high.

They generally sit below the profile of the hedgerows in the existing field boundaries, and the company previously indicated that in any areas where there is not already sufficient screening additional trees will be planted as part of the development.

An interesting aspect of this project is the community involvement, with the landowners involved being gifted 9% equity in the project, along with another 1% for the local community. There will also be a chance for local people to invest in the project in return for a dividend. A community fund will also put in place.

Back in March, the pause button was pressed on the multi-million euro plans after Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the NRA) expressed concerns that it would “adversely affect the operation and safety of the national road network.”

Instead of a final decision, the council sought further information from the applicant TDC Community Solar Park Limited in relation to a possible impact on drivers travelling north/northwest along the M6 motorway, in other words from Ballinasloe to Athlone, they also requested for more data in relation to the glint and glare study and photo montages of the site.

In May, the applicants replied with updated data which they claimed demonstrates that there will be “no significant adverse impacts on road users of the M6” which enabled the local authority to give a final yay or nay to the project.

The Westmeath Independent has submitted a request for comment from the developers in relation to the solar farm project and when it might move to construction, but bar an acknowledgement, is still awaiting a reply.

If it gets up and running, the Drum solar farm will result in a carbon saving of over 18,964 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year associated with electricity generation - that's the equivalent of 4,215 typical cars off the road, according to the planning documents.

The developers previously indicated that they expect the solar power generated to be consumed in Ireland rather than for export.

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