Life on the solar coaster, Aidan’s story

Joined 2015, Northern Ireland – I started at Lightsource during a period of lots of change in the Northern Irish economy and renewables sector. Most importantly (in my opinion) was a change in the way the country handled planning applications. The new system, where local elected members made the decisions, put community involvement and engagement at the heart of the decision-making process. This was pretty much how Lightsource had been doing planning from the beginning, a planning process that would enable local communities to become involved, invite robust debate and produce projects that we could stand over and would provide huge wider benefits. For me the opportunity to be involved in this exciting development here in Northern Ireland was tremendously attractive, so I jumped aboard the solar coaster!

And for the past six years, it has been non-stop. My role as a Principal Environmental Planner with Lightsource bp has allowed me to become involved in projects not just on the island of Ireland, but to work on the development of sites across the UK and indeed beyond. Every day holds a different challenge – one day you can be working on a project in Ireland and the next you are doing a DTA for site in England, or preparing a consultation brochure for a project in Trinidad. I’m always learning something new, experiencing planning in a new jurisdiction and working with new parts of the business.

For me personally, it has been particularly rewarding to be a part of the solar revolution at home, in Ireland. Lightsource bp were the first to build a solar farm on the island of Ireland, and the first to construct and implement a PPA with a large local business (Belfast International Airport). We blazed a trail, and it felt so good to be part of something making such a difference.

Being part of the wider bp brand is also something that I really like and appreciate. It brings considerable gravitas to any discussions with fellow planners, local elected members or landowners. In the latter case, landowners recognise the brand, and they want to work with Lightsource bp because they know we can deliver.

I know everyone says this, but I really mean it – no two days are the same at Lightsource bp. New and interesting challenges come up each day and our ethos and way of getting things done has proved invaluable. As a company we move and think fast. We have the track record and experience within the company to lead the way on how we go about our business, with our competitors following, as we make a real difference across the world.

Aidan Collins, Principal Environmental Planner

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