By: Kathleen O’Sullivan
The 69% of Irish farms that are set to benefit from the National Broadband Plan will have high-quality speed that is “probably faster than a lot of other urban areas”, according to Eamon Ryan, Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport.
Speaking to AgriLand, the minister said that the broadband plan, which is the “largest infrastructural project in rural Ireland since rural electrification” spanning 96% of land area, will see 69% of Irish farms get that “direct, really high-quality speed link”.
The plan was originally expected to take approximately seven years to roll out, but the minister said he is looking to accelerate it.
“We’ve already started with the first of the 300 connection points and they’re going in as we speak. We’ll start the first houses in Carrigaline and Cavan by the end of this year and it’ll ramp up a lot next year.
I’m hoping we can shorten it [timeframe] because the case for it has become all the more clear for it due to Covid-19.
It is anticipated that the network will involve a total of 140,000km of fibre cable and over 1.5 million poles from networks throughout the country; with over 15,000km of underground duct networks for fibre cable.
Kildare To Become Location For Ireland’s First Commercial Solar Farm
The minister also discussed with AgriLand the impact of the future development of Ireland’s first commercial solar farm, which will be in Co. Kildare.
However, he said that who owns these developments and how they connect into the family farm structure he envisions for the future “is an issue”.
“I think community ownership is particularly well suited for solar in the field because the scale isn’t so huge and it is relatively low-risk and, [if] you can get a whole community to invest collectively, it allows people to get entry to it,” he explained, in an interview held at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
“For the next few auctions, we want 100 of those community-type projects all over the country and we’ll do everything we can to support it.
“We won’t say no to other developments because other developers are doing a good job but we want a much larger involvement of community organisations. It has to be sensitively done. I think there’s a limit to how much wind we can get onshore; I think the really big development coming is in solar and in offshore wind.
“We’ll have to see how it works because we’re only starting, but it’s [solar] up off the land so you still have potential grazing and it doesn’t disturb the land; there’s no emissions or pollution, it is something we can integrate into a landscape – but we have to do it sensitively and we need community ownership.”