Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has expressed his disappointment after the Environment Minister turned down an invitation from the North Antrim representative to meet with local residents in Kells and Rasharkin about solar farm development.
Mr McKay said: “People living in these communities in North Antrim are not opposed to solar farms or solar energy but they do want to meet with the Minister concerning how planning policy will protect communities from over-proliferation.
“I have seen a number of cases in parts of Ireland and elsewhere where a lack of proper regulation from the outset has led to entire communities turning from a position of supporting renewables to opposing them.
“That is not what I want to see happen here and therefore we need a balance struck for solar farm regulations and planning policy from the outset to ensure that solar farms can be integrated into communities and also that the rural landscape can be protected.
“I am disappointed therefore that the Minister is not willing to discuss this policy area at all with residents in Rasharkin and Kells.
“These are the first proposals for large scale solar farms in Ireland! There needs to be a debate about how this technology can be integrated in rural communities with as little disruption as possible.”