Ambitious proposals have emerged to power a major Angus pharmaceutical plant with electricity from a giant solar farm on land a few miles away.
GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) has lodged a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) with Angus Council for the near-40 megawatt scheme on more than 60 hectares of land north of Montrose basin.
The array of panels would harvest solar energy which would then be fed through a private wire grid connection almost five miles south easterly, across open land and through Montrose to GSK’s Cobden Street operation, close to the town’s harbour.
On Tuesday, Angus development standards committee councillors received notice of the solar farm application, which is due to be the subject of a public exhibition next month.
Early reservations have been aired over the loss of prime agricultural land and the potential impact of power lines on a planned economy-boosting link road between Montrose and the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen dual carriageway.
Scottish Power Renewables have brought forward the scheme for land south east of East Ballochy, Montrose, involving a 39.9MW ground-mounted solar energy system, with a 10MW battery storage facility and associated infrastructure.
Although the details for the proposal are limited at this stage, a draft map indicates the power cable would run from the site and to the south west of Hillside, through the Borrowfield area of Montrose before passing along the northern edge of the town’s seafront links and golf courses to feed into the GSK plant.
A public exhibition of the proposals is being planned for either November 5 or 11 at Hillside village hall, a couple of miles from the proposed site.
Planning boss Kate Cowey said: “The solar development site that is subject of the PAN lies within the elevated area of Muir of Pert in the lower South and North Esk Valley, 6km north east of Brechin and 4 km north west of Montrose.
“The site currently consists of Class 2 and 3.1 (prime) arable and grazing land.
“A number of residential properties are located adjacent to the private wire connection route between the solar site and the edge of Montrose with a significant number of properties in Montrose located adjacent to the route as it crosses Montrose to the GSK facility.”
Permission for a 19MW solar development at a similar location was approved in late 2014 but expired without being implemented.
Brechin and Edzell Independent councillor Bob Myles said: “I’m disappointed that prime agricultural land is going to be used for this purpose.
“There’s also still a proposed link road from Montrose to the A90 and it would probably have to cut across the wire connection.”
The planning official said the detailed route of the cable and any impact on the link road would be considered as part of the future application process.