Solar farm offers solution

An alternative to unpopular wind turbines in the Galloway area could see its first example if planners give the go-ahead to a new venture.

Lark Energy are working on a planning application to be submitted before autumn for a solar farm between Newton Stewart and Wigtown.

The field in the company’s sights at Causewayend would be filled with solar panels fitted to frames stuck into the ground with no concreting or foundations required.

The amount of energy produced in a year could be enough to power 1300 homes - equivalent to three standard wind turbines, according to Lark Energy representatives who told Cree Valley Community Council about the scheme this week.

However, the panels average three megawatts an hour despite being capable for five, the council was told.

Angela Rankin from Lark said the site, around 23 hecatres, is already well-screened from public roads and the connection would run via undeground cabling along the verge of the A714 and up to Newton Stewart substation.

She added that sheep can continue to graze in the field around and under the panels and that the idea behind solar farms is to keep energy production as “clean” as possible.

A green mesh fence and five small transformer buildings would be built on-site. There would be no noise or pollution and only minimal maintenance around five times a year by way of a Transit van - no lorries apart from during the fitting stage, around 10 weeks, which would make use of local tradesfolk.

Ms Rankin added that an environmental impact assessment would only be obtained if requested by the Dumfries and Galloway Council planning department.

Councillor Bob Boan suggested, having already spoken to Wigtown Community Council who agreed, that Newton Stewart Hospital be gifted a solar panel system by Lark to help reduce its annual £20,000 electricity bill.

Lark’s representatives agreed to look into this on the understanding the savings go directly to the hospital and not the wider NHS.