PLANS for a photovoltaic solar farm which would cover more than one per cent of Cumbrae are back on the table.

Planning permission was given to the project by North Ayrshire Council back in 2017, however no work was ever carried out and the permission lapsed.

Comsol Energy Limited has now requested that the council provide a screening option to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be required to revive the proposed solar farm plan.

The site at Wee Minnemoer to the north of Millport would cover around 15 hectares on moorland that is currently used for grazing.

Resident Gregor Harvie, an architect and special advisor to Cumbrae Community Council, says an EIA is essential.

He said: “The applicant has brought the plan back to life, and is proposing to bring back a previously designed scheme.

“It is a very big development and will cover around one and a quarter per cent of the island, which is pretty sizeable.

“North Ayrshire Council does not have to consult on whether or not to do an EIA, but we have written to suggest that they do anyway.

“Whether you are in favour of the project or not, an EIA will consider the best place for it and will help the council define conditions they might put on it to lessen any impact on the environment.”

Comsol says that the photovoltaic panels would be mounted in fixed arrays with an electricity generating power of up to 5MW.

The arrays would be between 2.4 and four metres above ground level, with the proposed development also including ground mounted electrical inverters, a substation and a short access road.

A spokesperson for the firm added: “Solar farms are by nature a temporary land use, usually having an operational life of 25 years so the proposed development will result in minimal disturbance to land cover.

“The structures on site would be ground mounted using ground screws, which offers the advantage of avoiding excavation and foundation work, minimising the impact of the proposed development.”

Councillor Ian Murdoch has also backed calls for an EIA - and has raised concerns around how the planned project would benefit the Cumbrae community.

He said: “In my opinion an assessment is the first thing the company should be doing. I worry what it will bring to the people of the island."

Comsol this week reiterated that it believes the site’s environmental impact will not be significant and believes that an EIA is not necessary.

More details on the application can be found on the North Ayrshire Council planning portal.