AN extensive new solar farm has been given the nod by North Ayrshire planning chiefs.

Gina Mackenzie Loughrey is proposing the installation of a solar farm with a generating capacity of 63 mega watts and a battery storage system with a capacity of up to 31.1 mega watts.

Section 36 of the Electricity Act states that consent is required from Scottish ministers for the construction of such facilities with a capacity exceeding 50 mega watts.

The site covers 130 hectares in the rural area a couple of miles to the north-east of Kilwinning. The area to be covered with solar panels is approximately 69.4 hectares.

It is estimated the solar farm would generate 73 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.

There are also associated transformers and switchgear within a compound to be located on land to the east of an existing woodland area towards the southern end of the site near to the Benthead Farm access road.

Vehicle access is from the Lylestone to Barrmill Road to the west and from the B778 to the southeast.

Fencing would go to site boundaries with regular openings, allowing small mammals, including deer, to get through. Field boundaries will be kept with improved management of roadside hedges.

On reaching the end of its 40-year operational life, the proposed solar development would be decommissioned and the site restored to farmland. 

Councillor Tim Billings voiced concern that there was a fire risk involving the storage of batteries.

He also wanted to know what the fencing to keep deer out would look like, and also how people could be kept out of the area.

Head of planning James Miller said these points would be raised with the applicant and the battery storage issue would be covered by a risk assessment.

It was agreed to approve the development subject to conditions, following a motion from Kilwinning councillor Scott Davidson.