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Support for solar bid

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Support for solar bid

A PLANNING application has now been lodged for Dumfriesshire’s first solar farm, near Annan.

Stockport based Green Energy International (GEI) is seeking permission for the 60 hectare development at Jockstown.

They are hoping for the go-ahead from Dumfries and Galloway Council after public consultation found people in the area are broadly supportive of the proposal, which will generate 37.9MW of power and include another 12MW of battery storage.

If it’s agreed, the five month construction period could start later this year and the solar farm would be in situ for 40 years.

It will feature up to 108,400 solar panels laid out in south facing rows. They will be fixed into the ground to a depth of 2.5 metres and as no concrete is needed, can be easily removed with no permanent impact. Sheep grazing can also continue on the site, which is off the B722.

Solar farms generate energy from daylight using the passive photovoltaic process and then feed it into the national

grid for transmission and distribution – and the Jockstown site would link directly into the Chapelcross substation.

In their submission, GEI said: “It is anticipated that the solar farm will be in operation for 40 years. After 40 years PV panels will still work at approx. 80 per cent of their original capacity and so the scheme will remain in operation until the end of its viable economic life.

“The proposed scheme including the penetrative ground fixings are fully reversible and all structures can be removed from the site and the land reinstated to agricultural use. Many of the component parts, including the aluminium framework and silicon in the module panels, can be recycled for other uses.”

They described the outcome of public discussions, held in spring 2021, as ‘largely positive’, adding: “The majority of people visited were in favour of the development, understanding the need for renewable energy infrastructure.

“Conversely, any issues raised during the consultation were primarily around the visual impact of the project. Other questions included the decommissioning of the scheme, drainage, site access and HGV traffic.

“The local people around Jockstown are generally supportive of this development. The lack of any opposition indicates the overarching feeling of positivity towards the development.

“The attitudes of the local people are in support of renewable energy production, especially as the area has been popular for windfarms.”

Furthermore, following talks with locals, the developers have also agreed to ensure there is access through the centre of the solar rows to allow the Riding of the Marches cavalcade to continue to pass through each summer.

Writing in the application, Mathew Bayley, from GEI, said: “Green Energy International are pleased to submit the application for the development of a 37.9MW solar farm with 12MW of battery storage for consideration by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

“The development proposals include biodiversity enhancements, landscape improvements, and reflect comprehensive consultation with the local community.

“The extensive assessment provided within this submission has shown the proposal to have a neutral impact on environmental receptors and residential amenity whilst offering considerable benefit to the wider environment.”

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