Watchdog rejects plan for new solar farm in Co Kildare
A joint proposal by Irish renewables firm BNRG and France's Neoen to build a 12MW solar farm in Co Kildare has been turned down by the Republic's planning watchdog.
An Bord Pleanala said the project would be contrary to the character of the area.
BNRG, which already owns a solar farm in Co Down, and Neoen hoped to build the farm at an agricultural site around 4km from Kildare town.
The development had been refused by the local council on the grounds that the location was a "special landscape".
An Bord Pleanala said the project would "seriously injure" the visual appeal of the area and would conflict with the development plan's objective to protect the landscape.
"The proposed solar farm would form a prominent and obtrusive feature in the landscape, which would be highly visible in views from its environs and which would adversely impact on the character of the local setting," said the planning watchdog's inspector.
In 2017 BNRG and Neoen formed a joint venture to develop as many as 23 solar projects in the south and the east of the Republic.
The solar farms were intended to generate more than a combined 200MW of electricity when complete.
It was expected they would cost a total of €220m (£194m) to develop.
BNRG Renewables has already developed €230m (£203m) of solar projects in the UK and mainland Europe.
It also has a pipeline of projects in Australia and Latin America.
Last year it began building 10 solar projects in Oregon that will deliver a combined output of 35MW.
The company, founded by David Maguire and Neil Holman, is also developing a project in Maine.
It expects to have completed 150MW worth of schemes in the US by the middle of next year.
Last year BNRG Renewables opened the 14MW Laurel Hill solar farm in Co Down.
Meanwhile, Terra Solar has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanala for a 50MW solar farm in Co Kerry.
The proposal had been objected to by individuals including the environmentalist Peter Sweetman.
He also objected to plans by chip giant Intel for a new $4bn manufacturing facility at its campus at Leixlip in Co Kildare.
The project has been approved by Kildare County Council but is almost certain to be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.
The planning watchdog said that the Terra Solar project in Co Kerry, which will be 3.5km from Listowel, should be allowed to go ahead, subject to a number of conditions. The project had been rejected by the local council.