The north-east countryside could soon become home to one of Scotland’s largest solar farms.
Green Energy International wants to build a 34MW renewable energy project at Bilbo Farm near Crimond and hopes to have it operational by 2021.
The site would cover 150 acres – the equivalent of about 75 football pitches – and boast in excess of 124,000 panels.
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If permission is granted, it would be bigger than all but one of the solar farm plans being developed in Scotland at present – that at Lhanbryde in Moray.
Before it can progress, however, the firm behind it will need to undertake an extensive consultation process with the community
Green Energy International, who are based in Cheadle in north-west England, plan to speak with the people living in the 19 homes within around a mile of the proposed site.
They will also contact Buchan East Community Council, local interest groups, the council and the region’s politicians.
A pre-planning application notice has already been submitted and a consultation event is to take place in the Crimond Public Hall next month.
At that meeting, the developers will offer details of the plan, an update on the timescale and offer locals an opportunity to share their opinions and ask questions.
Already know is the number of panels proposed, together with the need for a number of substations, inverter stations and a CCTV network to protect the site.
Despite its scale, a spokeswoman for Green Energy International said the development would be “discrete” and should operate without causing any disturbance.
She said: “All renewable energy is good but solar is very discrete. At a height of usually no more than two metres, these developments can be relatively unnoticed.
“With a life span exceeding 40 years they sit there quietly producing electricity while the land lies fallow. Operating purely on daylight we can be assured of this ongoing supply.
“Sheep can graze on the grass underneath and behind each row of panels.
“The Solar Farm will enhance the wildlife, encouraging small mammals, birds and bees through a detailed ecological management plan.”
The body that represents the renewables sector north of the border said the proposals show the north-east and Scotland as a whole can be something of a “hotspot” when it comes to solar panel projects.
Stephanie Conesa, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “It will surprise many that the electricity generation potential of a solar PV array in Scotland is very similar, if not better than, one in central or northern England or parts of Wales.
“Scotland really can be a hotspot for this type of green energy.
“Solar power is a low cost, popular and clean alternative to fossil fuel generation and it absolutely must be in the energy mix if Scotland is to meet its 50% renewable target by 2030.”