Western Isles Council has confirmed that an outline proposal for a large-scale solar park in Lewis has been submitted by Surrey-based NGN Telecoms. The project, which could become one of the largest energy projects of its kind in the UK, would comprise 25,000 solar panels totalling more than 140,000 square feet.

The site, located in the Arnish Basin, is on land owned by the Stornoway Trust, which plans to rent it from the trust on a 25-year lease; this has already been agreed in principle. It is expected that once planning permission has been granted, the plant will be complete in just four to five months.

“We intend to utilise up to 5MW output of the proposed solar farm to sustain the energy supplies of existing businesses…while helping to encourage the development of new businesses in those locations,” said Gary Shepherd, NGN Telecoms Managing Director.

“The site has been specifically selected because it sits in a natural basin and is located away from any residual developments, on ground which has no crofting potential or rights as the ground is too poor quality to sustain even grazing for livestock.

“The site is not in any area zoned for conservation. In addition we also intend to obscure the view of the site from the only road in the area by planting a line of evergreen trees on the three sides of the road that are visible to the road.

“After 25 years, at the end of the lease with the Stornoway Trust, everything installed on the land can be removed. If financially viable and desired by the community, the council and the Stornoway Trust, the solar panels can be fully refurbished or replaced and a new lease term entered into.”

A Western Isles Council spokesman said, “I can confirm we have received a copy of the proposal which certainly is the largest solar energy development proposal we have had to consider. It is just at the start of the planning process.”

Worryingly, if the plant is not completed by the August 1st deadline, it will not receive a financially viable feed-in tariff rate. The pending fast-track review could leave large-scale solar developers with just 8.5p per kilowatt hour.