Scotland’s largest solar farm gets the go-ahead in Energy Consent Unit first

SCOTLAND’S largest ever solar farm has been given the go-ahead.

Elgin Energy has been granted planning permission for a 50MW solar PV project at the disused Milltown Airfield in Moray – which will generate enough energy to power around 15,000 homes.

It becomes the first to be approved by the so called Energy Consent Unit of the Scottish Government – a new process necessary for larger sized operations seeking approval. 

But it has led to calls from environmental campaigners for more to be done to ensure such projects can be connected to the grid.

Ronan Kilduff, managing director of Elgin Energy, said they were “delighted” by the agreement.

He said: “We would hope to begin developing this project in the early 2020s. Elgin Energy is continuing to invest in Scottish solar and across the UK to accelerate the transition to a low carbon, secure and affordable UK energy system.”

The project has involved collaboration between Elgin Energy with Innes Estate, SSE Power Distribution, National Grid, Savills, the ECU and Moray council through the whole planning process.
The development will occupy approximately 115 hectares of the former RAF Airfield on land owned by the Innes Estate.

The airfield was decommissioned in the 1970s and since then has been used for a variety of activities including storage, HGV testing and sheep grazing. The site will continue to be used for sheep grazing once construction is complete.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Innes Estate”, said landowner Edward Tennant.

“The need for renewable energy is becoming increasingly important and we are very happy to be contributing to the green future of Scotland.”

Aleksandra Klassen of STA Scotland added: “It promises to make a cast contribution to the development of solar in Scotland.”

Stephanie Conesa, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, also welcomed the announcement. She said: “With most of Scotland having just enjoyed a long weekend of sunshine, it seems like perfect timing for Elgin Energy’s announcement that it has received planning permission for the largest consented solar PV project in Scotland to date.

“It will surprise many that the electricity generation potential of a solar PV array in Scotland is very similar, if not better than, one in central or northern England or parts of Wales. Scotland really can be a hotspot for this type of green energy.

“Solar power is a low cost, popular and clean alternative to fossil fuel generation and it absolutely must be in the energy mix if Scotland is to meet its 50% renewable target by 2030.”

Dr Sam Gardner, Acting Director of WWF Scotland added: “After many parts of Scotland have been basking in sunshine over recent days, it’s great to see this large solar farm granted planning permission.

 “Solar will have an important role to play in helping Scotland reach its 50 per cent renewable target by 2030.  It’s low cost, popular with the public, and is playing an increasingly important role UK wide in helping to keep the lights on.

 “We’re calling on the UK Government to provide a route to market for solar to ensure it can make its full contribution to cutting emissions and creating jobs across the country.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Scottish Government – Energy Consents Unit

IMAGE CREDITS: Elgin Energy

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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