Green light for £6m solar farm project in Mallusk

Plans for a large solar farm development in Mallusk have been given the go-ahead by councillors.

Sheep grazing on a 'solar farm' in Devon, England. (Archive photo)

The £6m facility, consisting of rows of 2m-high panels surrounded by a security fence, is to be installed across five fields on farmland off Sealstown Road.

It’s understood the solar farm will produce enough electricity to power 1,675 domestic households.

Applicant Lightsource SPV 56 Ltd said the project will provide 30 jobs during its 12-week construction phase, and a further four long-term jobs when it is operational.

Planners received no objections to the scheme from statutory bodies or nearby residents, and recommended the application for approval at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s planning committee on Monday evening.

Planning case officer Johanne McKendry told elected members there would be no perceived adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents, or on the character of the area.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Aiden Collins from Lightsource said the intention of the project was to provide renewable energy to a local manufacturing company.

He added: “This would assist the company to drive down costs and help its long-term sustainability.

“We are at a very advanced stage of negotiations.”

Members also heard the 15 hectare site features a historic monument; the remains of a prehistoric burial site.

But the applicant offered assurances that the layout of the development would respect the heritage asset within the site.

Chairman of the committee, Alderman Roderick Swann inquired about decommissioning plans for the facility after its 25-year lifespan had run out.

Mr Collins responded: “We will remove all materials. There is a sinking fund set aside for this incase the company is not around in 25 years.”

Councillor Billy Webb proposed that members accept the recommendation of planners. This was seconded by Cllr Thomas Hogg and resolved by the committee, with 10 voting in favour and one against.