Councillors have given the green light for an electricity storage plant on the edge of Arbroath after overturning an official refusal for the policy-breaching proposal.
Farmland across the Hercules Burn on the north side of the town’s Western cemetery was pinpointed by a power firm as the most suitable site of nearly 50 considered across Scotland for the development.
Through 15 storage units and transformers it will store power to feed the national grid and balance out anomalies in demand but the proposal was rejected by Angus planning chiefs under delegated powers earlier this year.
Reasons included the planned location being outside the local development plan area.
However, councillors on the area’s development management review committee have narrowly voted to allow the project on the near-one-hectare site.
Coronation Power Ltd had looked at siting the facility near substations at Lunanhead outside Forfar and Bridge of Dun but ruled out those locations.
The company said the Arbroath site, close to a long-established electricity sub-station, was one of the few where there is capacity to connect to the grid.
The applicants said: “There is a national requirement to balance the peaks and troughs associated with electricity supply and demand to avoid strains on transmission and distribution networks and to keep the electricity system stable.
“The development is designed to support the flexible operation of the national grid and decarbonisation of electricity supply. Although the development would import and export electricity, it would not generate any electricity in its own right nor have any on-site emissions including carbon dioxide.”
Arbroath SNP councillor Alex King said: “The applicant’s lengthy supporting statement is a very cogent argument as to why this should be allowed.
“The development needs to be alongside a major sub-station, the loss of agricultural land is not significant and once the planting around this site has matured you won’t even see this. The sub-station has been there for 50 or 60 years and most people don’t even know it’s there.”
Arbroath West and Letham Liberal Democrat Richard Moore opposed the application, saying: “I don’t understand why there isn’t another appropriate site and why the balancing has to be done on the edge of Arbroath – why can’t it be done on the edge of Edinburgh or Glasgow?
“They’ve come back because it is the optimum location for them but I don’t believe they’ve made their case and I support our officers on this.”
Councillors voted 3-2 to allow the development, with a range of conditions relating to matters including landscaping and road safety set to be attached to the approval.