Moray Council approved Bristol-based developer Elgin Energy’s plans for the solar farm near Urquhart, which could see around 80,000 solar panels installed.

The 47-hectare site will include a substation and 20 invertor stations, with all cabling to be underground. This is intended to ensure the farm maintains a strong environmental condition, allowing sheep to graze around the panels and hedgerows to grow undisturbed.

Moray Council planning & regulatory services committee chair Cllr Claire Feaver 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.”

The project will overtake Scotland’s current largest farm, a 13MW system at Errol Estate in Perthshire, which was opened in May 2016. The scheme was also developed by Elgin Energy and is capable of generating power more than 3,500 homes.

Permission for the Moray solar farm is valid for 30 years, from the first time energy is exported from the site. A date for the start of the project has yet to be set.

Solar surge

The announcement follows a series of major solar developments in recent weeks. Last Friday (11 August), the UK’s largest commercial property developer, Landsec, flicked the switch on a giant rooftop solar system at a shopping centre in Leeds, kicking off a 12-month investment programme in onsite sustainability across its estate.

Meanwhile, top property development firm British Land has completed the installation of one of the UK’s largest retail rooftop solar projects, which will deliver 22% of the site’s annual electricity demand during the summer months.

Arsenal Football Club’s 60,000-seater stadium in North London became the first Premier League stadium to source 100% of its electricity needs from renewables, in the same week that Mongoose Energy finalised a deal to finance the UK’s biggest community energy project, a ‘solar plus battery’ farm in Warwickshire.

George Ogleby

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