Plans to build up to eight large-scale solar farms in Scotland have been met with mixed reaction.
London-based solar developer Lightsource Renewable Energy’s plans to lease 700 acres of land for 10MW of solar could see some farmers earn up to £56,000 a year to lease out an 80-acre site for one solar farm.
National Farmers Union for Scotland president Nigel Miller said this offered an opportunity for some farmers to secure an additional income stream.
“I think in some ways we have been ahead of the game on wind in Scotland but we have been behind the curve with solar,” he said. “There has been a bit of a catch-up over the last couple of years but field arrays have been less common.”
In the right location, solar schemes had the potential to deliver real economic benefit, he said.
“But there has to be a level of sensitivity so they blend in with the landscape,” added Mr Miller.
Nick Orpwood, of Aberdeenshire-based Communities Against Wind Turbines (CAWT), agreed and said solar schemes had less of an impact than wind turbines.
“There is an obvious loss of visual amenity on the landscape but they are much less obtrusive,” he said.
Independent Highland anti-wind campaigner Lyndsey Ward said all forms of renewables technologies were immoral due to the way they were funded via household energy bills.
“I don’t think solar is quite so devastating on the landscape but I do wonder whether the north of Scotland is the best place for solar PV,” she said.
“We still have days up here when you have a miserable dreich day without any wind or any sun, and we will always have to have 100% backup.”