A huge solar farm in Fife could produce enough electricity every year to power around 7000 homes, councillors have heard.
Members of Fife Council’s central and west planning committee have given their unanimous backing to plans for the facility on the outskirts of Kinglassie, which should see work begin on the 115-acre site next year.
The location at Strathruddie Farm was chosen by the developers as the landowner was keen to be involved, while it is fairly well screened and located just 2.2km from the nearest grid supply point at Westfield.
Once up and running, the solar farm is expected to generate 24.8 GWh of electricity each year, the equivalent to powering approximately 7000 homes.
It will also generate a CO2 emissions saving of over 11,000 tonnes per year – helping to tackle climate change and meet national and local renewable and carbon saving commitments.
Ten battery storage units will also be created, allowing energy to be stored on site which can be better managed during times of high or low demand.
Fife planning case officer Martin McGroarty recommended approval of the plans when they went before councillors on Wednesday afternoon, and the committee agreed.
“Approval of the development would result in a significant step forward in addressing the global climate emergency by assisting the National Electricity Grid to become more reliant on renewable sources of electricity generation and storage,” he stressed.
“The development can be carried out without unacceptable impacts on the local environment or residential amenity, and no matters of road safety, contaminated land or flooding are raised by the development.
“And there are no issues of visual impact to address, nor concerns for the built and historic environment arising from an approval of this application.”
Detailed designs submitted along with the application revealed the solar farm will be a mix of fixed panels and also tracking panels, which can follow the movement of the sun during the day and maximise energy production.
A 110-page ‘glint report’ was also submitted along with the application, which aimed to capture the impact the sun reflecting on the panels may have elsewhere.
That assessment concluded that no glint was predicted for tracking panels after accounting for screening measures, while any glint would occur outside of Fife Airport’s operating hours so would not be an issue for pilots approaching the aerodrome.
One representation was received from a local resident concerned about the impacts of construction traffic along the access affecting her property.
However, councillors heard this was based on an incorrect understanding of where the site access was proposed and should therefore be discounted.
Security measures, including fencing and CCTV, will be introduced when work starts on site, and that is likely to be in the latter half of 2023.
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