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MEA Council considers solar farm at Carnfunnock Country Park

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been considering the potential of a solar farm at Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne.

An officer’s report presented to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Monday evening said:

“Connecting locally to the grid would likely require financial investment that would make the prospect economically unviable.”

The report also stated that to produce electricity “without a viable financial incentive would carry financial and reputational risk”.

Commenting during a previous discussion, Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly, who is a member of the council’s Climate Change Working Group, expressed concern over the location of a solar farm in the countryside saying that this may “raise issues with campaigners in relation to industrialisation of the countryside”.

However he said that other solar energy should be explored.

Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen suggested that solar energy be considered by the council as a source of income from the site.

Acting Chief Executive Philip Thompson told councillors that sites for solar farms were being considered. However, he indicated that this particular site may not have access to an “end user for potential electricity generated”.

The report also says that while the ground space would “allow for a substantial number of panels, the electricity production would far outweigh the site requirements”.

“Given the trend to try and match generation locally to demand, it would be unlikely that an export opportunity would be afforded at the site.

“There are better opportunities within the council estate to generate solar electricity at a scale that would provide opportunity to enter into power purchase agreement with neighbouring industry at very attractive unit costs or where export would be offered at higher unit cost rates due to network capacity pressures.”

Meanwhile, a disused council-owned landfill site outside Ballymena earns Mid and East Antrim Borough Council £100,000 annually.

The council is currently “extracting gas and producing electricity on site” at Ballymacvea Landfill Site, at Tullynamullan Road, in Kells, which closed in 2007.

However, “adequate financial provision” still has to be made in relation to “aftercare” of the site for up to 60 years “as long as the waste presents a hazard to human health and/or the environment”, which is a requirement of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

As a result, the local authority needs to hold £2.5m in financial reserves to meet this potential cost.


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