Plans for 38-acre solar farm on island rejected by council

North Ayrshire Council have rejected energy company Comsol's plans to build a solar farm on the island of Cumbrae.

Plans for 38-acre solar farm on the island of Cumbrae rejected by council STV News

Plans for a solar farm the size of 22 football pitches on the island of Cumbrae have been rejected by North Ayrshire Council.

Energy company Comsol wanted to build a site made up of around 12,000 solar panels, CCTV towers and fences at the top of the island.

Residents on the island, which is home to just over 1,000 people, objected to the plans – arguing it would be disastrous to the local economy and wildlife.

On Wednesday, it was announced the planning committee found favour with the residents, noting that the application would have a detrimental impact on the island’s habitat, visual amenity and tourism.

They also noted that the application lacked key information. Comsol now have the option to appeal the decision.  

A spokesperson for North Ayrshire Council said: “At its meeting of May 24, the Planning Committee refused an application for a solar farm and battery energy storage system at Wee Minnemoer, Cumbrae.

“The application, which had been recommended for approval by officers of the council, was assessed against policies set out in the Local Development Plan and against the National Planning Framework 4, and took into consideration site specific aspects such as visual amenity, history, noise, biodiversity/ecology, traffic impact, tourism and public access and its contribution to renewable energy targets.

“In making its decision the Planning Committee acknowledged that there was a pressing need to address the climate crisis however, on the balance of harm versus benefit, that this was not the right site for this development.

“The Committee agreed unanimously that the application be refused specifically on the grounds of habitat concerns, effects on the tourism economy and the overall visual impact on the landscape.”

Cumbrae is one of six islands that are part of Scottish Government plans to become carbon neutral by 2040.

It was said the proposed solar farm would reduce the island’s carbon footprint by 40% – but concerns were raised that it would come at a disastrous cost to the local environment as the proposed site is home to a number of endangered and rare birds.

Scott Ferris, a Millport shop owner and chair of the Tourist Association told STV News: “This is good news as the build would have caused major troubles for tourism. I had concerns about how much of an impact the solar panels would have had on an area of outstanding natural beauty.

“Relieved, I am not against green energy. There are better places to put solar farms than on the top of a small island in an beautiful area. All the talk of security cameras and gated areas made me a touch nervous.”

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