A COLOSSAL solar farm development – the size of 120 football pitches – has been given the green light in the region.
However, the green energy development at High Nunton Farm at Borgue has split the community and was approved on a very slim margin last week.
At Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning committee, councillors were also split on whether or not to approve the plans.
Land owner Robert Maitland submitted a planning application for the installation of nearly 45,000 solar panels on metal arrays, along with a battery storage facility for renewable energy on a 49-hectare piece of agricultural land.
The solar farm will also include associated equipment, such as an energy storage container, communications cabin with tower and customer substation, temporary works compound, security fencing, and CCTV cameras on three-metre high poles.
The council received 27 objections to the proposal, primarily from people who live in Borgue, while 29 people sent in letters of support from various addresses in the region – but also London, Liverpool and Edinburgh.
Numerous residents attended last week’s planning committee meeting to share their views and hopefully sway the opinion of councillors.
Howard Davison criticised the council planning officer’s assessment of the application, listing ten areas where alternative points of view and important information were “not properly considered.”
He added: “His assertion that a solar farm the size of up to 120 football pitches – with mitigation planting – would still appear largely as an agricultural landscape lacks any credibility.”
Russell Malloch raised objections next, saying: “The High Nunton proposal is significantly contrary to many of the relevant policies in the local development plan and NPF4 (National Planning Framework).
“The application must be refused, not least because the environmental impact assessment, on which the officer has based his recommendations, is incorrect and incomplete.”
Mark Parry, who lives near Dalbeattie and has known the applicant for over 15 years, spoke in support of the solar farm development.
He told the committee: “You are receiving an application from an individual – not a corporation – who has poured bucketloads of time, energy, and funding over an 11-year period into a vision from which he obviously stands to benefit, but will have a far more ranging impact through the provision of green energy.”
Tom Woof, the planning agent representing Mr Maitland, added: “The project will have the capacity to generate nearly 30 million units of electricity per year – enough to supply the annual electrical load of around 8000 homes.
“This is entirely in tune with the new policy which has been taken by the council, Scotland, the UK, and global governance bodies.”
Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh proposed that the planning committee back the council officer’s recommendation and approve the solar farm development.
Meanwhile, Stranraer and the Rhins Councillor called for it to be rejected.
The vote between councillors was tied 9-9 – with two councillors abstaining. Committee chairman, Councillor Jim Dempster, used his casting vote to approve the application.