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Potential Chapelcross use for solar energy

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Potential Chapelcross use for solar energy

ELECTRICITY produced at a planned new solar farm near Annan could be used to help decommission the nearby Chapelcross.

That was the claim made during last week’s planning committee meeting, when the renewable scheme at Jockstown got the go-ahead.

The 37.9MW development will comprise 75,796 south-facing, photo voltaic panels, set on 2707 tables in 14 different fields. Sheep will be able to still graze the land.

There will also be 12 battery storage containers on site and a control room and substation, with generated power taken to the nearby Chapelcross substation by underground cables.

The solar farm would last for 40 years after which the area could then revert back to agricultural use.

Councillors on the committee heard a presentation from applicant Matthew Bailey, a director of Green Energy International.

Explaining why they chose the site, near Creca, he said: “It was the substation at Chapelcross that was the magnet for the solar farm.

“The initial determining factor is usually driven by the availability of the connection into the grid or substation. In this case, there was an identified demand for power into the Chapelcross substation so that became an option for us to connect into the grid. You cannot just put a solar farm anywhere and assume a grid connection.

“That’s essentially the reason we looked in this particular area. Then you have to get a landowner that’s interested and you have got all the ecological and environmental constraints.

“This was just the optimal one that works in this position.”

Mr Bailey also revealed they are in discussions with Magnox about supplying the former nuclear power directly.

He said: “Subsequently, it became clear that there’s future development plans on the Chapelcross site and Chapelcross itself through the decommissioning process, when they are going to be using a lot of power. It may be that as an addition, we put in a short length of cable to allow the decommissioning process to use the electricity from the solar farm, but that’s outwith this application.”

The committee unanimously agreed the application. Cllr Ian Howie said: “There are occasions round here when we need alternatives to wind and this is a practical response to such conditions.”

Cllr Ivor Hyslop added: “I think this is a good thing for the area.”

And Cllr Archie Dryburgh expressed hopes it would have an impact on the future of Chapelcross, saying: “I hope this kicks the Chapelcross project and Borderlands into the next century and I am pleased it has come forward.”

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