Huge solar farm for Kells site?

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Plans are in the pipeline to create a massive solar farm in the Kells countryside which, when completed, will represent an investment in excess of £50M, councillors have learned.

Details were contained in correspondence to Ballymena Borough Council from Bristol-based firm Elgin Energy who are proposing to create a 50 megawatt solar PV development at Whappstown Road.

In a letter, which was presented to last Thursday night’s Spatial Planning Committee of Council, Ronan Kilduff, a director of Elgin Energy, said the scheme was currently at the stage of beginning the consultation process and that, as part of that process, the company would welcome the opportunity to meet with councillors to outline the project.

Mr Kilduff explained that Elgin Energy EsCo Ltd. develops commercial scale PV (photovoltaics) projects throughout the UK.

The company has been working in Northern Ireland since 2011 developing the necessary relationships to deliver large scale solar developments and have built up a team of consultants, who are all based in the province, to prepare the planning applications.

“We have set a target to develop 150MWp of solar PV across NI before 2017,” wrote Mr Kilduff, pointing out that the planning application being prepared for the Kells project is for a 50MWp development.

“This will be one of the largest projects under consideration in the UK and when completed will represent an overall investment of over £50,000,000,” he stated, adding that the company propose to lodge the application towards the end of this month.

Council Officer Trevor Kyle told the Committee: “This would be one of the biggest solar farms in the UK and if this one goes ahead it would be of great importance for the borough.”

Members agreed to invite representatives from Elgin Energy to the next Planning Committee meeting on November 9.