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A solar farm planned for the site of a luxury hotel

Solar park of 800 panels planned.

One of the county’s most famous and historic hotels has applied to Cavan County Council for permission to install an 800-panel solar farm on the grounds.

Kingscourt Castle Ltd have applied on behalf of Cabra Castle, Cormey, Kingscourt to install a ‘photovoltaic generation system’ consisting of a series of ‘ground mounted’ solar panels and roof mounted panels.

The stated purpose of the plan is to help offset the property’s reliance on fossil fuels as well as help reduce “running costs”.

Each of the 800 floor-mounted panels will measure one meter by 1.7 meters in diameter and will be positioned on a site to the northwest of the castle, a protected structure. The works include the connection to an existing substation building.

An appraisal of the proposed development has been prepared by Niall Smith Architects on behalf of the owners of Cabra Castle, the Corscadden family.

The report, produced in October this year, says the owners want to make the property “less dependent on fossil fuels” by harnessing solar power and converting it into “usable electricity”.

“Much of the accommodation at Cabra Castle consists of authentic old buildings which have minimal thermal insulation built into the same fabric. Improving insulation levels is not easy as it could easily detract from the character and quality of authentic interiors. The building therefore performs poorly in terms of thermal efficiency by current standards and requires significant energy to heat the building and provide the required range of services”.

The report goes on to state that the proposed installation of solar panels would “help solve” this situation as the “green energy” generated would reduce the carbon footprint of the building “significantly and would also contribute to running costs”.

He adds, “Needless to say, direct south-facing sunlight is imperative for solar panel installations to operate efficiently.”

The site, the report adds, is “roughly parallel” to the main castle avenue. “The applicants are very aware of the importance of not harming the castle or its prospects, including that of the access avenue”.

To minimize the visual impact, it is also proposed to carry out “some earthworks” to facilitate lowering the height of the crest of the hill so that the signs “can fit more into it”.

The proposed excavations will involve “reshaping the site” so that two “leveled plateaus” are formed. The excavated material will be moved to the edge of the site to form an ‘earth berm’ to help ‘visually screen’ the installation of the panels.

“The angle of the proposed installation to the castle building should result in a minimal flicker effect as it will only be visible from very few windows on the upper floors. The panels are to be floor mounted so they will be as low as possible on the ground to minimize the visual impact of these”.

A decision on the request is expected in early December.