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Shock Berryhill solar decision: Angus farmer promises to fight on as residents rejoice

Doug Scott near Berryhill Farm.
Doug Scott near Berryhill Farm.

Retiree Doug Scott is delighted Angus councillors have rejected plans to build a massive solar farm next to his home.

Doug’s house overlooks Berryhill Farm.

The retired customer service worker was one of the first residents to speak out against the plans.

He said: “It would have opened the floodgates for further developments like this.

“It’s a great relief that common sense prevailed for protecting arable land in Scotland.”

Doug thinks using arable land for anything other than growing food is a waste.

He added: “In a supermarket you can buy a pineapple from across the world for cheaper than you can get a turnip grown in Scotland.

“The whole system is upside down.”

Applicant Solar 2 Ltd hoped to have built 152,000 solar panels on the site. They claim it would have provided renewable power for 12,500 homes.

Residents feared the huge solar array was a done deal after planners recommended that councillors approve the scheme.

But in a shock decision – which one councillor described as the most difficult in his 20 year career – they rejected the plans.

How has landowner William Moncreiff responded to the decision?

Landowner William Moncrieff remains convinced a solar farm is the right use for the land.

His latest application is the third time the farmer has made moves to have a solar farm built on his land.

However, the preceding two attempts did not reach this stage.

He is dismayed that emotion seemingly played a factor in the decision.

William said: “There was some emotional pleas from some residents and that seems to have swayed the councillors, rather than the benefits of bringing clean energy to thousands of homes.”

The farmer has come out fighting, questioning why some residents chose to live in the area.

He added: “It’s been a matter of public record for seven years that I have wanted to bring a solar farm here. Some of the people making their emotional pleas have lived in the area shorter than that.

“Why did they buy their house here in the first place?

“Some of them are saying it’s a beautiful place to live, but that’s only because I’ve made it a beautiful place. It was a bog before I started working the land.”

William said the land’s uneven and steep nature makes it “very difficult” to use for traditional farming.

“I feel a solar array is the right use for my land.”

Will Solar 2 appeal?

Neil Lindsay, development director of application Solar 2 Ltd, said he was “very disappointed” with the decision.

“We still believe it is a very good site for a solar farm.

“It’s a shame the decision was based on emotion and was not a factual one. The planning officers recommended it for approval.”

But Neil remained tight-lipped in the aftermath of the meeting on whether his team will appeal the decision.

He added: “We are assessing our position at the moment before going forward”.

‘An anxious year’

Residents joined forces to form the campaign group Spare (Save and Protect Angus Rural Environment) last year to fight the plans.

A spokesman for the group said: “The proposal meant an anxious year for many in the community.

“The massive proposal was wholly wrong for its location and would have had long lasting, negative implications for the local area.

“This was a matter of local, regional and national importance with possible implications for the whole country.”

William Moncrieff’s long struggle to transform his land into one of Scotland’s largest solar farms

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