TAYTO PARK FRONTMAN Ray Coyle’s plans for a multimillion-euro solar farm in Meath have been delayed over fears it will harm the “beloved rural landscape”.
Last month, Coyle and neighbouring farmer Michael McDermott were granted planning permission to construct a 35 megawatt solar farm on a 140-acre site beside the Tayto-themed amusement park in Ashbourne.
It was previously reported that a third of the power generated by the site would be used by Tayto Park and Largo Foods, the crisps company’s parent. The rest of the energy would be supplied to the national grid.
Coyle has also suggested in numerous interviews that the project will cost about €23 million to develop.
However, Meath County Council’s approval has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by a group of people living in nearby areas.
The group of locals from Yellowshar, Kilbrew, Irishtown and Painestown is led by resident Margaret Farrelly and previously objected to the development at local authority level.
In a letter to Meath County Council’s planning department, Farrelly and the group said it was unjust that Coyle and McDermott should “redefine our much beloved rural landscape with glass and steel”.
They claimed that they have already suffered from expansions at both Tayto Park and Largo Foods’ factory next door.
They claimed that developments at Tayto Park and Largo Foods have resulted in heavier traffic in the area, a “significant increase in litter along our roads” and a “dramatic increase in noise pollution”.
They also said some views of the Wicklow Mountains, which are close to 50 km away, have been spoiled by chimneys from Largo Foods’ factory and Tayto Park’s zipline and rollercoaster.
“We feel our rural location and community are currently under attack. For those of us who cherish the rurality of the area, this is beyond disheartening,” the residents told Meath planners.
“We are not against change per se nor are we against progress. We are, however, against the overzealous erosion of our rural landscape and the beautiful amenity in which we live and work.”
Citing Coyle and McDermott’s original application, the locals noted that there are plans in the region for four other solar farms at various stages of the planning process.
They told the council it would be “unacceptable” if even two were given permission.
“This will transform our beautiful countryside into an industrial region almost overnight,” they said at the time.
It was reported in March of last year that Ray Coyle had stepped down from the board of two Tayto companies at the end of 2016 and the board of Largo Foods, which he founded in 1982.
He is still involved in Tayto Park, which opened in 2010 and has grown into one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions.
The Meath businessman spent millions building the theme park, and dug into his own pocket to the tune of €10 million to build its flagship wooden roller coaster.