Plans have been unveiled
for a 40,000-panel solar
farm on land four miles from Coldingham, between the A1 and Huxton.
Berwickshire Housing Association Enterprise Ltd wants to build the development on a 62-hectare site at Huxton Bogbank.
The company had originally planned to create a wind farm, and had been pursuing a renewable energy generation scheme on the land for a couple of years.
A scoping request for a four wind turbine development was submitted in November last year. But following discussions with Scottish Borders Council in May, BHA Enterprise decided to submit plans for a solar development.
It had became clear that a wind development would be unlikely to receive permission given the number of such developments already built in the area.
If the solar farm is given permission, panels would be suspended nearly a metre above the ground, in order to allow sheep grazing to continue on the land.
As opposed to a wind turbine development, construction materials would be transported on normal HGVs, although farm tracks would need to be upgraded. No excavations would be necessary.
Given the low height of the development and the woodland surrounding it, the visual impact on the landscape would be minimal.
A scoping request for the plans has been submitted to the local authority.
WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said the scheme would still have to go through the proper planning process.
“However, the thousands of solar panels already installed across Scotland are already helping to prevent thousands of tonnes of climate-damaging emissions being emitted every year,” he added.
“The Borders and other parts of Scotland may seem unlikely places for solar, but if you look at solar maps Scotland receives about 80% of the solar energy of Germany - the current world leader in solar.
“So, there’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t be deploying significantly more solar if we put our minds to it.”
Permission is to be sought for 25 years, after which structures would be removed from the site and the land restored.
Malcolm Dixon of the Borders Network of Conservation Groups believes solar farms are less obtrusive than wind farms, but is not convinced by their capacity to generate power.
“We’ll look at the application in detail and speak to people in the area before any judgement,” he said.
“In general terms, solar panels are less obtrusive on the skyline than wind turbines,” he added. “But in general their contribution to the national grid is minuscule.”