Golf club and airport oppose solar farm plan due to glare from the panels

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 21, 2019 18:10

The host of this year’s Irish Open is opposing a planning application for a nearby solar farm because the glare from the panels could adversely affect golfers.

According to The Sunday Times, Lahinch Golf Club has cited the ‘glare and glint’ from 22,000 solar panels.

Amarenco has applied to build a 5MW solar farm on a 29-acre site near Ennistymon in rural Clare.

Last month Amarenco appealed to An Bord Pleanala after Clare county council refused permission for the project, supporting the concerns expressed by the golf club and some residents.

In its ruling, the council concluded the solar farm would ‘form a prominent feature in the landscape which would be highly visible from a wide area, and which would adversely impact on the rural character of the area’.

In an eight-page submission, Lahinch Golf Club said the solar panels would be particularly visible from elevated tee boxes on its old course. It criticised the lack of a ‘glint and glare assessment’, saying Amarenco’s suggestion that the glint would be equivalent to a car parked across the street or a house window was ‘unfair’, given there will be over 22,000 panels on ground-mounted frames.

The project’s backer had said existing foliage, as well as further planting, would provide enough protection from glare.

The golf club described itself as a ‘very substantial tourist attraction which contributes to the overall west Clare tourism product’. A decision by An Bord Pleanala is due in January 2020.

Shannon airport also made a submission to Clare county council, describing the developer’s reassurances about glare and glint as ‘generic’ and ‘basic in the extreme’. It said no consideration had been given to possible effects on flight strips or operations at Shannon airport, and called for a ‘proper technical assessment’ to be carried out.

In its planning application, Amarenco pointed out some solar farms in Europe were directly beside airports or, in the case of Geneva, on the airport’s roof. It provided the council with a report purporting to show there would not be any ‘significant nuisance effects from glint and glare’ on the community or Shannon airport.

Clare county council pointed out its policy was to support solar energy for generating electricity, and that it had recently granted permission for several such projects. It noted, however, that these were all on ‘low-lying’ land.

The solar power industry and communities alike have called on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to introduce guidelines for solar farms. The department says it has ‘no specific planning guidelines in place in respect of solar farms’ but all applications for such projects are subject to planning regulations generally.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 21, 2019 18:10
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2 Comments

  1. Jakob October 24, 06:52

    All too often it is claimed that PV panels cannot cause glint and glare, due to their anti-reflective coatings. This is far from the truth. Even if PV panels only reflect 1% of the sunlight this is sufficient to cause disability glare, which can be a danger to traffic and an unreasonable nuisance. Only a geometrical solar glare assessment will reveal if and for how long certain points of interest will face glint and glare.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Andy October 24, 11:15

    Is professional golf more important than saving the planet? Answers on a postcard please.

    Reply to this comment
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