Moray Council has approved Elgin Energy’s plans for the development of a 47-hectare site at Speyslaw, which will see around 80,000 solar panels installed.
As well as the solar panels, the site will consist of 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.
Currently, the largest Scottish solar farm is at Errol Estate in Perthshire, which went live in May last year and was also developed by Bristol-based Elgin Energy.
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.”
Work on the Speyslaw site is expected to start within the next few months.