TOBIN Consulting Engineers was appointed to secure planning permission for the Trascan Solar Farm in Co. Offaly. The proposed development consists of up to 30-megawatt (MW) solar farm comprising photovoltaic panels on ground mounted frames and a 110 kiloVolt (kV) substation.
During the pre-planning scoping and planning and environmental assessment of the application, a number of consultation activities took place with a number of parties to inform the preparation of statutory planning documents and supporting environmental and engineering reports. Parties consulted included the Planning and Roads Departments of Offaly County Council, Eirgrid PLC for the design of the 110kV substation and An Bord Pleanála to determine if the substation would meet the provisions of Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID) under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).
Following consultation with the relevant parties, two planning applications were prepared:
- Offaly County Council to obtain permission for the proposed development of the solar farm; and
- An Bord Pleanála to obtain permission for the development of the substation and grid connection.
A Screening for Appropriate Assessment and Natura Impact Assessment were completed by TOBIN. This included ecological site surveys which were completed across the site.
The source-receptor-pathway model revealed five qualifying interest species of the River Barrow and Nore SAC that, in lieu of mitigation, are at risk of potential adverse effects from the proposed development. Mitigation measures during the design, construction and operational phases of the proposed development were proposed and assessed under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive.
Following mitigation, it was determined that there will be no risk of adverse effects on the qualifying interest habitats and species, or on overall site integrity, nor in the attainment of their specific conservation objectives for the River Barrow and River Nore SAC.