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Windfarm plan thrown into doubt by solar panel park plan for Angus

The future of a national windfarm project off the Angus coastline has been thrown into doubt with the approval of a rival solar panel park.

Planning officials had recommended refusal of the 51-hectare solar farm at the former RAF airfield at Tealing, stating it could impede the offshore development and was inconsistent with local and national energy plans.

However, Angus councillors at the development standards committee disagreed, voting by nine to two in favour of the solar park plans.

This followed earlier claims that the council could be hit with a £15 million compensation claim from the landowner if the solar park option was rejected.

While yesterday’s decision might leave the offshore project in the doldrums, those behind the competing developments may now enter into negotiations to explore whether both plans can co-exist.

Seagreen Wind Energy, a joint venture between Scottish and Southern Energy and Fluor Ltd, already had conditional council approval for the development of cross-Angus county infrastructure and a sub-station at Tealing, in support of their proposed 1,050-megawatt offshore wind turbine development.

Seagreen general manager Mike Scott said the windfarm project was in the public interest.

Asked for a likely start date for the development, Mr Scott said they had been asked not to begin work prior to the Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie in the summer of 2018.

Graham Donnachie, for the 31-megawatt solar farm developers, indicated that, subject to approval, they could begin work on the park next March.

He said council planners had acknowledged the environmental benefits of the solar option and problems had only arisen due to the national planning framework 3, published a month after the landowner’s initial application was lodged.

Moving for refusal of the solar park application, committee chairman Rob Murray said it was important members recognised the direction of travel of national planning framework.

Councillor David Fairweather said he was “deeply uncomfortable” at agreeing its rejection, noting the plans had preceded the Scottish Government framework.

Councillor Bill Duff agreed, arguing it was not for committee to tell a landowner what he could or could not do with his land, but rather ensure checks and balances were in place to avoid any abuses.