Opponents of a massive solar farm at Berryhill in Angus have redoubled their efforts to stop the renewables developers in their tracks.
The Save and Protect Angus Rural Environment (Spare) group’s efforts come as the developer Solar 2 began face-to-face consultation on the plans.
The farm, near Fowlis and Piperdam, could be transformed into a huge solar array the size of around 300 football pitches.
It is the third time developers have tried to build a solar farm on the site with energy giant BP Lighthouse’s previous effort coming unstuck at the consultation stage amid fierce community opposition.
The much-anticipated Berryhill solar farm consultation event took place last week.
Originally, residents were denied the chance to grill Solar 2 on the plans in person because of coronavirus restrictions. But as Covid-19 guidance eased, Solar 2 announced the event.
Were objectors won over at the Berryhill solar farm consultation?
Despite Solar 2 hailing the event as a success, members of Spare remain unconvinced about the solar farm.
The protestors began a leafleting campaign in the build-up to the consultation in Fowlis.
They delivered pamphlets to hundreds of homes in surrounding areas.
The group is also preparing posters to further highlight their concerns. These include a loss of valuable arable land. They also question the site’s suitability as much of it is sloping and facing away from the sun.
Glint and glare from the panels has also been highlighted.
A Spare spokesman said: “There is a concern many people just do not know what is being planned or just don’t appreciate the scale of the proposals.”
A full planning application is expected next month.
If approved, the site could provide enough power for around 12,500 homes.
‘Very grateful’ to talk about solar farm
Neil Lindsay, Solar 2 development director, thanked the 53 people who attended the Berryhill solar farm consultation.
Topics raised included the visual impact, implications on drainage, traffic and access to walking routes.
“Their comments will help us to design mitigation measures and shape our ongoing survey work and final proposals,” Neil said.
“We are already planning significant new planting to reduce views of the solar farm.”
Neil also said grass and wildflowers will grow beneath the panels. This will allow sheep to graze and improve the site’s biodiversity.
He also said a “good number” of attendees “recognise the need” for more solar developments in Scotland.
If built, the 50 MW farm would massively increase Scotland’s solar output. There are no solar farms of that size currently operational in the country, although the Scottish Government has granted planning consent for a similar sized farm near Elgin, Moray.