PLANNING permission for a solar farm near Urquhart has been granted.
Councillors approved Elgin Energy’s development of the 47-hectare Speyslaw site, which could see around 80,000 solar panels installed, along with a substation, 20 invertor stations and a CCTV camera system, all bound by a two-and-a-half metre high deer fence.
All cabling will be underground, meaning sheep will be able to graze around the panels, and no trees, hedges or woodland will be removed or altered. However, additional planting has been proposed.
Permission for the solar farm is valid for 30 years, from the first time energy is exported from the site. After the permission has expired, the developer will have one year to decommission the works and restore the site to a condition agreed with the council.
Among the conditions attached to the planning permission is the submission of regular reports to the council on the energy generated by the solar farm. And, before works begin, the council is to approve the make and model of the solar panels to be used, as well as a draft decommissioning and restoration plan, to make sure there is no lasting negative environmental impact. A Habit Management Plan will also be approved by the council before works can begin.
Cllr Claire Feaver, chair of Moray Council’s Planning & Regulatory Services Committee, said: “A significant amount of renewable energy will be generated by this solar farm over the next 30 years.
“The opportunity to continue grazing on the land, together with the Habitat Management Plan, will maintain and enhance the diverse range of species in and around the site. I see this as a win-win.”
Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 95,510 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.
Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.
Headquartered in Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.