The developer behind plans to build one of Scotland’s biggest solar farms in Angus is rushing the consultation process to “stifle” opposition, it has been claimed.
Campaign group SPARE (Save and Protect Angus Rural Environment) has been set up to oppose Solar 2’s proposals for a huge solar array at Berryhill Farm, close to Fowlis.
It is the farmer’s third attempt to build solar panels on the land near Dundee.
A group spokesman said “crucial discussions” are being “stifled under the blanket of the current coronavirus pandemic”.
Previous solar bid failed after community opposition
The spokesman continued: “Solar 2 appear not to be amenable to a slight delay in their timetable to allow normal public meetings.
“The company originally indicated it would hold a public exhibition at the end of May. Now it appears that a virtual consultation process will be conducted.
“The company was asked at the community council meeting if it would delay to allow public meetings now that lockdown is easing.
“But so far there is absolutely no sign of that happening.”
A public meeting has already taken place online and more is set to take place in the coming months.
But the campaign group fear Solar 2 is trying to rush through the consultation period while coronavirus restrictions are in place to limit its effectiveness.
One of the prior attempts to build a solar farm on the land fell through after neighbours voiced their opposition through the public consultation process.
Why are some locals opposed to the solar farm?
The project is in an early stage and a planning application is yet to be filed with Angus Council.
That is expected around June.
If approved, the site will see enough solar panels erected to fill around 300 football pitches.
The developer claims the Berryhill solar farm will generate enough power for 12,500 homes.
SPARE also has concerns over the suitability of the land.
A spokesman said: “This is not an industrial site. It is arable farmland that has been in more or less continuous use as such for many, many years.”
The group is working with planning experts to prepare a opposition on technical legislation grounds.
‘No clear answer’ on Covid-19 guidance
Muirhead, Birkhill and Liff community council hosted a presentation by Solar 2 earlier this month where the firm outlined their plans.
Neil Lindsay, development director of Solar 2, claims plans for physical consultations are being hampered.
“We have gone to the government to see when these type of indoor meetings can take place, but we haven’t been given a clear answer.
“So it’s not something we are able to plan for effectively.
“We have to follow government guidance and are doing as much public consultation as we can.
“We have started some consultation and we’ll be having more in the next couple of months.”
He also said the Berryhill solar farm would allow the land to “recover” during the project’s 35 year lifespan.