ESR submits application for 29MW Magheralin Solar Farm

Renewable energy company RES has applied for planning permission from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for a 29.9MW solar project in the UK.

The proposed site is located approximately 1 kilometer southwest of Magheralin, and initial plans were shared with the public at an exhibition in March 2023 to gather feedback.

Following the design process, adjustments have been made to minimize the impact on the environment, including the removal of two land parcels and relocating the substation to reduce visibility.

These changes have reduced the project size by over 45 acres.

RES selected the site for its favorable solar irradiation levels, lack of statutory environmental and landscape designations, and proximity to a feasible grid connection.

Rachel Buchanan, development project manager at RES, said, “Solar is a free and inexhaustible resource that has an important role to play as part of a balanced energy mix.

Large-scale solar, alongside other renewable technologies, is now the cheapest form of new electricity generation, making solar development beneficial not only for the environment but also for billpayers.

“We hope that Armagh City, Banbridge, and Craigavon Borough Council will agree that Magheralin Solar Farm is in an optimum position to help tackle climate change and make a positive contribution to Northern Ireland’s target to meet at least 80% of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030.”

The planning application includes a comprehensive Landscape Planting Plan that outlines strategies to improve existing planting and introduce new tree and hedgerow planting.

These measures not only reduce the visibility of the solar farm but also promote biodiversity by creating wildlife corridors and essential resources for mammals, birds, and insects.

According to a recent study supported by Solar Energy UK, solar farms contribute significantly to biodiversity and have the potential to further enhance it.

The study, conducted in collaboration with ecological consultancies Clarkson & Woods and Wychwood Biodiversity, revealed that solar farms can serve as safe havens for biodiversity and play a crucial role in nature restoration.

Analysis of 87 solar sites in 2023 showed that vulnerable and red-listed species such as skylarks, yellowhammers, linnets, starlings, and brown hares were commonly found on UK solar farms.

The report also highlighted successful case studies, including the cultivation of chamomile for commercial use between solar panel rows and the higher survival rate of planting plugs and pot-grown plants under the solar modules compared to sowing seeds.

Source ESR 

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