The Scottish government, through its Energy Consents Unit (ECU), has approved construction of a 50 MW PV project at Milltown Airfield – a former Royal Air Force base in the county of Moray in northern Scotland – on land owned by the historic Innes Estate. The project, according to Elgin Energy, will be the largest PV plant ever built in Scotland.
“The ECU, Moray Council and all parties involved in the planning process have been highly engaging and we are delighted with this outcome, which is the culmination of almost six years' preparatory work,” said Elgin Energy Managing Director Ronan Kilduff. “We would hope to begin developing this project in the early 2020s.”
The airfield was decommissioned in the 1970s and the site has since been used for sheep grazing, vehicle testing and other purposes. Landowner the Innes Estate is a stately home dating back to the 17th century.
“This new project will provide yet more diversification and, most importantly, it will allow us to re-invest in one of Morayshire’s most important historic houses,” said Edward Tennant, owner of the estate. “It has been a pleasure to work with Elgin Energy and we look forward to the completion of the project and the continuation of our working relationship.”
The project is the first to be approved by the ECU, which was formed to assess applications for energy generating projects of 50 MW and above, as well as other major energy infrastructure deals and projects. Applications for smaller generation projects, and modifications to existing ones, are made to local planning authorities.
The application approved by the ECU is described as the “erection of ground mounted fixed solar modules with [an] associated security fence, primary substation, 50 inverter substations, access tracks and pole mounted CCTV cameras” and was approved on Friday.
Elgin Energy last year received approval for another 20 MW PV project in Moray County. Scotland acknowledged the potential of solar in its first Energy Strategy, published in December, however commentators have said more concrete action is needed to boost solar’s role in the Scottish energy transition.
“Our congratulations to Elgin Energy for getting approval to develop Scotland’s largest solar farm,” said Aleksandra Klassen, National Co-ordinator for Solar Trade Association Scotland. “It promises to make a vast contribution to the development of solar in Scotland. That such large-scale projects are being planned for in the subsidy-free era is testament to the increasingly important role solar will play in our national decarbonization strategies.”