Durkan ‘considering’ public inquiry call

Phil McArthur - KellsVOCAL,  Eileen Russell- KellsVOCAL and  Mervyn McMullan- KellsVOCAL present their petition to Mark H Durkan, Minister of Environment. Picture submitted.
Phil McArthur - KellsVOCAL, Eileen Russell- KellsVOCAL and Mervyn McMullan- KellsVOCAL present their petition to Mark H Durkan, Minister of Environment. Picture submitted.

KellsVOCAL, the group opposed to plans for a giant solar farm on lands between Kells and Moorfields have handed over a 618 signature petition to the Environment Minister.

Mark H Durkan, visited KellsVOCAL last week to hear the concerns of local residents.

The KellsVOCAL Committee gave the Minister and his special advisor, Mrs Mary Bunting, a tour of the proposed site which extends over 250 acres of open and undulating landscape.

“It’s only when you are actually standing on the Whappstown Road and the Speerstown Road can you appreciate that as far as the eye can see there will be solar panels,” explained Vice Chair, Jane Burnside. “Only through a site visit could the Minister grasp the vast scale of this proposal and the damage it will cause to the habitat of the endangered Curlew and the residential amenity of over 60 households.”

Mrs Eileen Russell of KellsVOCAL presented the Minister with a signed petition of 618 objectors. It was revealed that the Department had received more than 550 written objections to the application. KellsVOCAL were told by the Minister that their call for a public inquiry was being considered.

The group advised the Minister that they will be presenting their extensive research to Antrim and Newtownabbey Council and contrasted this with, what they termed, Mid & East Antrim Council’s refusal to allow KellsVOCAL the opportunity to present to Council.

Ed Crawford, Chair of KellsVOCAL commented: “We urge local Councillors to overturn this decision. Why would the Council not want to be fully informed of all the issues pertaining to an application in their area for the largest solar power station in the UK?”