Will it be noisy?

The only potential noise sources anticipated on site are from inverter/transformer stations and the substation compound. The noise emissions from these sources will be analysed by an independent noise emission specialist to ensure that they are below regulatory limits. As a result of this assessment, we generally expect to reduce noise emissions at local receptors below these regulatory levels.
Although the noise assessment will consider a worst-case scenario of full load operation against night-time noise limits; the noise emissions will vary with plant output and so is likely to be below the assessed emission levels in the mornings, evenings and overnight.


Will there be a lot of additional traffic?

The operation of the solar farm will be monitored remotely with sporadic maintenance required to the site in light goods vehicles (LGVs). Maintenance work on the solar arrays is anticipated to be required approximately three times a year. It is estimated that traffic to the site during the operational phase would only average 3 to 4 visits per month which would not impact upon the existing public road network.


Will it affect human health?

Solar panels are primarily constructed from silicon, and the electronic components are fully encased resulting in no risk of leakage or leaching of the panels over their lifetime. It is anticipated that when the time to decommission arrives, in line with the WEEE Directive, and trends in waste management, the site operators will be required to ensure used solar panels and all other electrical components will be recycled. The operators will regardless, be obliged to dispose of panels using suitably licenced operators and facilities. It is considered that with properly managed facilities there is no risk to health and safety from the materials to be used on the proposed solar farm.
Public concerns over substations and inverters/transformers commonly refer to possible effects arising from Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF), and Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Electro Magnetic Fields often termed ELF-EMF (refers to EMF at less than 60 cycles-per-second – or 60 Hertz).
We recognise that there is a significant amount of material on EMF and ELF-EMF available on the internet. However, the reliability of the sources varies dramatically which can and does result in confusion and misinformation about the issue. We consider reliable sources of information on EMF and ELF-EMF are the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The ESB, ESBN and EirGrid also provide detailed research on safety matters for substations and associated electrical infrastructure.
EMF occurs both naturally in our environment and even in our own bodies as part of the normal functioning of our cardiac and nervous systems. EMF is also produced by all electric equipment including televisions, mobile phones and vacuum cleaners. EMF levels, measured in microtesla (μT), are highest closest to the source and their level reduces very quickly with distance from the source. In a recent study of homes in the UK, most homes had average magnetic field levels in the range 0.2μT to 0.4μT which were attributed to low voltage sources (i.e. wiring, appliances and distribution circuits). For specific electrical equipment, such as a vacuum cleaner, the μT at 30cm from the machine can vary from 2 to 20 μT while at a 1m distance this falls to 0.13 to 2 μT. ICNIRP, the independent world expert on the subject, identify safe levels of exposure to EMF as being 100 μT.
EMF will be produced by the proposed substation, the control buildings and from the proposed inverter/transformer stations located around the solar farm. For the proposed substation and control buildings it is considered a value of less than 0.4 μT EMF would occur at distances greater than 50 metres from the substation. For individual inverter/transformer stations, levels lower than 0.4 μT at 30 metres from each station can be reasonably anticipated.


Will it devalue my property?

Research funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) considered studies of property prices in several countries (United States, United Kingdom and Germany) that have significantly more ground mounted solar PV than as yet in Ireland. This did not identify any studies which concluded that proximity to ground-mounted solar farms has a negative impact on property prices. This report states:
“Having undertaken a comprehensive desk review, this research has identified no studies from the case study countries which indicate that proximity to USSPV negatively impacts on property prices”.
This report can be located at the following location:
In addition to this study, there are a number of An Bord Pleanála (ABP) Inspector’s reports which have not found any evidence of property devaluation as a result of solar array development when assessing residential amenity.


Can the land still be used for agriculture?

The land beneath the solar arrays will remain available for use as pasture for sheep or other livestock which can pass under the panels. This practice is commonplace on land where solar farms have been developed to manage grassland and control weeds. The lands can also still be farmed with certain types of agricultural activity such as crop cultivation and beekeeping for instance, and it is envisaged that the development will allow for ecological restoration and agricultural uses in and around solar arrays. If the lands were not to be farmed, the grass and weeds would be cut similarly to land which is used for silage production.


How will the boundaries be maintained?

Hedges will be maintained similarly to how a road or other boundary would be maintained, through targeted trimming at suitable times of year. All cutting would be done in line with best practice and would not reduce the height and nature of the growth below that consented as part of the planning permission.


Will there be a visual impact on my property?

As part of the planning process our consultants Macro Works (https://www.macroworks.ie/) will be developing a landscape and visual impact assessment (LVIA) report. As part of this they will develop photomontages that will show viewpoints of the site both before and after the construction of the proposed development and will include the screening and planting proposed. This will ensure that sufficient screening is developed to protect visual amenity in the area.


What will the boundary of the site be?

Harmony Solar’s standard design includes a new fence, hedge and the planting of native species along the boundary of the solar farm. The fence would be located three metres inside this new hedge. These hedges are typically between three to six meters in height and the fence is two metres in height. The hedges will be designed by a team of landscape architects to screen the fence from outside the site, so the fence, when constructed, should not be visible from outside the site.


Will there be lighting on the site?

Low level lighting is proposed as part of the substation compound, which is required by ESB Networks. This would only illuminate selected areas of the substation compound and be directed downward. No lighting is required within the site beyond the substation compound. CCTV cameras proposed throughout the site operate using passive infra-red. These cameras will be directed internally within the site and will not monitor lands outside of the boundary.