A DEVELOPER has launched an appeal to the Scottish Government following the unanimous refusal of plans for a renewable energy project.

On December 13, Perth and Kinross Council’s Planning and Placemaking Committee denied planning permission for a solar farm – the size of 90 international rugby pitches – less than half a mile from the centre of Coupar Angus.

Objectors told councillors the development would create a “very bleak industrialised landscape” in what is “the jewel of Strathmore”.

Applicant Vickram Mirchandani of Coupar Two Ltd submitted an application to Perth and Kinross Council to develop a 49.9MW solar farm on 91 hectares of land 130m South East of Coupar Angus Substation, Pleasance Road, Coupar Angus.

The proposal comprised ground mounted solar arrays, inverters, transformers, a substation, security fencing, CCTV cameras, cabling, access tracks and associated works.

A previous proposal – submitted by the same London-based developer – for a solar farm at the same site was unanimously refused by councillors in February 2023 and attracted 145 objections. 

The latest application received 173 letters of objection and seven letters of support.

Objector and Coupar Angus resident Andrew Valentine is the spokesman for the campaign group SORE – Save Our Rural Environment.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “You would think people who had written in the first time would not bother the second time – but there were even more. There is a lot of real anger.

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“The second application was very similar to the first. We all feel we have been put through it once, then there was a second application and now have to face it a third time through the appeal. There is fury.”

At last month’s planning meeting objector, Galloway told councillors the plans were “wholly inappropriate”.

Chris Button, another resident, described it as “one of the most outrageous solar farm proposals that has ever been made”. 

His wife Roz Button said the “static bleak sea of infrastructure” would create a “very bleak industrialised landscape”.

After hearing the deputations from local residents, Conservative councillor Ian James suggested the new application was “just the old application dressed up a bit better” and moved for refusal.

LibDem Bailie Claire McLaren seconded and the committee unanimously refused the plans upholding the reasons for refusal recommended by council planners.

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The four reasons for refusal outlined in the report of handling were: the negative visual impact due to its size, appearance and location; “inadequate” measures to offset landscape concerns; the conclusion it “will erode the local distinctiveness of landscape character at this location” and “significantly impact” its appearance; and the loss of prime agricultural land.

But developer Coupar Two Ltd has now launched an appeal to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division.

In their appeal statement Coupar Two Ltd said: “The Report of Handling has both overstated the extent and nature of the landscape and visual effects and has also failed to properly balance the new considerations created by NPF4 [National Planning Framework 4].”

It describes the project as “close to being a national project which has highly localised effects”.

The developer added: “In addition, the Report of Handling and the council decision have failed to reflect the very meaningful and positive benefits that will flow to landscape character arising from both the mitigation proposed as part of the scheme, but also the reinforcement of the existing landscape framework.

"These are all characteristics that repeated landscape character studies have identified as being harmed by intensive agriculture. At the same time, the appellant has produced, as part of that mitigation strategy, a strategy to also benefit ecology. That too is positively recognised by the biodiversity officer’s response.”

Coupar Two Ltd argued “there is an overwhelming case in support of sustaining this appeal”.

The developer has submitted 78 documents supporting its appeal against Perth and Kinross Council’s refusal decision. 

The appeal has been registered and PKC approached for a response. Members of the public have until February 2, 2024 to make representation.