Published: 05/12/2017 11:13 - Updated: 05/12/2017 16:56

Huge solar farm gets council support

solar panelPLANS for a disused Moray airfield to be transformed into the largest solar farm in Scotland have been backed by Moray Council.

Elgin Energy is behind proposals for the major development, which would be sited at Milltown Airfield, near Urquhart, and would include an estimated 200,000 panels.

Because of its size, the ultimate decision will be taken by the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit. However, the opinion of the local authority is sought as an important part of the decision-making process.

Today, members of Moray Council’s planning committee voted not to object to the proposal. Councillor Aaron McLean described the plan as an “exciting development” for Moray, while committee deputy chairman Marc Macrae said it was a fantastic opportunity for the local area.

He said: “This has the potential to be one of the largest solar farms in Europe.”

In August, the local authority gave permission for a similar solar photovoltaic array 1.25km north-east of the airfield at Speyslaw. It is around 40% of the size of the latest proposal.

A report to the council stated: “The proposal comprises of an area of 114 hectares of land originally developed as a World War Two airfield. It was used as an airfield up until the 1970s.

“This large site would be covered almost entirely with rows of solar panels arranged around the former runways and the rows of panels would sit approximately 2.8m above ground level.

“Permission is sought for a temporary period of 30 years, after which the solar panels will be removed in their entirety.”

Members of the committee were told it would be a significant renewable energy development for Moray. The report concluded: “This proposal would see an appropriate use for an otherwise large and under-utilised former airfield.”

If the ECU approves the application, Milltown will be the largest solar farm with planning permission in Scotland.The largest in Europe is understood to be a 300MW farm in France. A decision is anticipated in the first quarter of 2018.

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