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Berryhill community vow to fight giant solar farm appeal

A local consultation event held to discuss the Solar2 plans last summer.
A local consultation event held to discuss the Solar2 plans last summer.

Campaigners against the huge and controversial Berryhill solar farm say they will fight on after the developer launched a planning appeal.

A spokesperson for SPARE (Save and Protect the Angus Rural Environment) Berryhill says there is “no question” opponents of the scheme near the village of Fowlis will keep up the fight.

“We were anticipating an appeal and we will respond appropriately.

“We have the energy to keep going on this.”

The site under debate lies south of Piperdam Leisure Resort and takes in swathes of agricultural fields.

berryhill solar farm site
The Berryhill site.

Solar2 want to install 152,000 solar panels on land previously used to grow crops.

They have registered an appeal with the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) after Angus councillors threw out their planning application.

With a potential output of 49.9 megawatts, the solar farm would, if approved by a Scottish Government reporter, be one of Scotland’s largest.

Against the backdrop of the fuel crisis, Solar2 says renewable projects have “never been so important”.

Why did councillors refuse the plans?

Council officers had made a recommendation for councillors to approve the Solar2 proposal.

But elected members voted eight to five against granting planning permission.

The vote followed impassioned pleas from local residents who believe the development would ruin the rural environment.

One local resident said the solar panels at Berryhill would destroy a “glorious green piece of Angus heaven”.

Solar 2 held a public consultation in the Fowlis Easter Hall to discuss the plans for a solar farm at Berryhill.
Solar 2 held a public consultation in the Fowlis Easter Hall to discuss the plans for a solar farm at Berryhill.

The council had received a total of 136 objections against the plans.

The SPARE spokesperson said there was also the issue of keeping arable land available for food security.

“This proposal is one of the largest in Scotland.

“There is no question that if you take 300 acres out here, then that creates a precedent.

“It’s not going to be long before the arable land is swallowed up.

“We are concerned about the loss of good land for food production.

“But that’s not our only concern.”

Solar2 say Berryhill project is ‘very viable’

Efforts to develop a solar farm at Berryhill now date back seven years.

Three years ago, Lightsource BP pulled the plug on a previous proposal.

The company dropped its plans after a community consultation.

At the time the company said local feedback “in combination with our environmental assessments suggested to us that the Berryhill Road site was not suitable for the proposed installation”.

Neil Lindsay is land and development director for Solar2.

He maintains there is no reason why the development cannot go ahead.

“Solar2 are still fully committed to the Berryhill Solar Farm as we believe it is a very viable project with no constraints on site and a grid connection nearby.

“The need for new renewable energy projects such as Berryhill has never been so important and by building a solar project here we are helping to diversify Scotland’s renewable energy mix.”

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

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