Ambitious proposals to develop one of the UK’s largest solar farms in Angus have re-emerged.
In 2019, people power led to the plug being pulled on a scheme for a huge swathe of hillside near Fowlis, close to the county’s border with Dundee and Perthshire.
But a new developer has now approached Angus Council over the potential of a 300-acre site south of the Piperdam country resort being used for a 50 megawatt scheme.
If approved it would generate enough electricity to power 12,500 homes.
The planned site is on land at Berryhill Farm – around 700 metres to the north west of the village of Fowlis.
New applicant, Solar 2 Ltd, has re-started the planning process by seeking Angus Council’s view over whether or not an environmental impact assessment would be required for the 121 hectare site.
The company say that in 2017, a previous screening opinion for the earlier development concluded no EIA would be required.
They add: “However, given the time elapsed and further work undertaken to progress layout and design iteration, an updated screening letter is being provided for the provision of a new screening opinion.”
Site predominantly arable farmland
Engineering consultants in the screening opinion application say the site encompasses two spurs from Blacklaw Hill to the west and comprises two south-facing slopes.
The site is mainly arable farmland with some forestry.
Errol solar farm, a 13MW site operational for around five years, sits around 13km to the south west of the proposal.
But the firm say there are no other approved solar PV sites within a 15km radius which might give rise to cumulative development effects.
There are multiple Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) within 5km of the site, the nearest at Redmyre around a kilometre awary, but also including Den of Fowlis, lochs at Lundie and and the Tay estuary to the south.
The applicants add: “Due to the site being historically heavily disturbed by agricultural activity, it is not anticipated that any undiscovered archaeological remains will be present.
“A Landscape and Visual Appraisal (LVA) will be undertaken and will establish a full visual baseline and highlight potential impacts.”
Solar 2 Ltd’s array of proposed technical studies linked to the bid include ecology and biodiversity, a badger survey and a glint and glare assessment.
“We consider that the technical studies as proposed, and which will be subject to further discussion with the relevant consultation organisations, will provide Angus Council planning with sufficient knowledge to evaluate and determine the planning application,” added the firm.
Angus councillors will consider the screening opinion application in due course.
The Berryhill land has previously been in the sights of Lightsource BP but was dropped in 2019 following a community consultation exercise.
The company said it had taken local feedback on board and considered the site was no longer a viable option.
40MW solar farm already approved for land near Montrose
Last September, Angus councillors approved a 40MW array for farmland north of Montrose Basin nature reserve.
The 140,000 panel scheme submitted by Scottish Power Renewables proposed a four-and-a-half mile cable run from East Ballochy through the Angus town.
It would link to a private connection close to the GSK production site, although there has been no firm confirmation the chemical giant is the end user client in the plan.
The project was developed with principal landowner Stracathro Estates for land on which a 19MW solar farm was approved in 2014 but never progressed after planning permission expired.