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Take My Breath Away

Dunnstown Solar Farm Faces Backlash From Horse Breeding Community, With Concerns Raised Over Stud Farm Viability

A number of people have voiced their concerns to Kildare County Council regarding the construction.

Prominent horse breeders are expressing their anger over the proposed development of a €100 million solar farm in the townland of Dunnstown, near Two Mile House.

They argue that the establishment of the solar farm, spanning 318 acres and generating electricity for thousands of homes, would not only disturb their animals but also jeopardise the viability of stud farms in the area.

Portlaoise-based EEL Mullacash Solar Ltd has lodged the application, with plans to produce 105MW of renewable power.

Ger Morrin of Donode stud farm, along with the Cullen family of Middlelane Farm and Peter Kelly of Ballymore Eustace, have voiced their concerns to Kildare County Council regarding its construction.

According to the Sunday Times, they fear that the project, spearheaded by Everay Energy, would significantly disrupt their horse-rearing operations and adversely impact the renowned equine landscape of the county.

Morrin, known for breeding renowned horses like Elusive Wave, Strong Suit, and Mojo Star, highlighted the vulnerability of foals to environmental changes.

With his 47-acre stud farm accommodating 40 mares and 30 foals at any given time, Morrin warned that the presence of solar panels could distress the foals, potentially leading to financial losses and health issues.

He also raised concerns about the dust generated during construction, posing a risk to the respiratory health of his horses.

John Halley, Morrin's veterinarian, expressed worry about the adverse effects of such a massive project on the grazing and living spaces of mares and foals.

Echoing similar sentiments, the Cullen family, renowned for their Ocean Road horse, emphasised the potential impact of construction activities and glare from solar panels on their horses.

Evelyn Cullen highlighted how any disruption to the horses' environment could trigger anxiety and potentially dangerous behaviour, posing risks to both horses and handlers.

Adding to the chorus of dissent, Kelly, a distinguished bloodstock breeder, criticised the proliferation of solar farms in the region.

The breeders' submissions to the council come at a time when there is anticipation for a new renewable energy spatial policy promised by Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, expected to be released in June.

Earlier this month, Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD, also raised concerns around the solar farm.

In his submission, the Fianna Fáil Kildare South TD told the council that “the concerns of local residents and stud-farm owners are not without significant justification”.

“To concentrate three large solar farms in one small geographical location and on top class agricultural land seems to me to be an initiative that is hard, if not impossible, to justify," he said.

Everay Energy - known as Mullacash solar farm - has claimed that the proposed development "will generate a range of economic benefits both in terms of its construction and operation, generating jobs for installation, maintenance, and its eventual remediation”.

If planning permission is granted, the solar farm would span 318 acres across 30 fields of agricultural land that is currently used for 'pastoral farming'.

A decision is expected by Kildare Council in the coming weeks.

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