Campaigners against plans for a controversial solar farm which they say will blight a beauty spot on the Isle of Cumbrae will stage a protest.

On Saturday islanders will march to the top of the island to the proposed site which they say is not the right location for a solar farm.

Campaigners say ironically the proposed site looks across the Clyde towards the proposed XLCC Factory site, one of the largest buildings in Scotland which will manufacture undersea cables to transport solar energy from Morocco to the UK.

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They also questioned the logic for building a solar farm on an island where it rains 183 days a year.

A 5MW scheme was first proposed by Comsol Energy Limited in 2016, but was not built.

Critics of the scheme say the proposal did not include any benefit to the local community, all the power was to be taken off island and fed into the national grid.

A subsequent application submitted in July 2022 provoked the submission of 263 comments (96% objections) to North Ayrshire Council. The application was withdrawn by Comsol Energy Limited.

Comsol held an event at the end of last year signalling their intent to submit another planning application which included battery energy storage systems and associated infrastructure, giving a total output of 19MW.

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North Ayrshire Council was asked whether they would have to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), but despite protests from Cumbrae Community Council and local MSPs, North Ayrshire Council said an Environmental Impact Assessment was not needed.

The proposed site is adjacent to the highest point viewing and picnic area and the core path – one of the main walks on the island. It is within the Great Cumbrae Special Landscape Area and the Barbay Hill Local Nature Conservation Site.

Cumbrae Community Council feels local people’s views are being completely ignored.

They claim the planned solar farm, the size of 22 football pitches, covering 1.3% of the total area of the island, at least merits a proper assessment.

They argue an EIA would trigger important questions such as whether an alternative site might have less environmental impact than the current proposal, which is adjacent to the main viewing point and picnic area on the island and is within the Great Cumbrae Special Landscape Area and the Barbay Hill Local Nature Conservation Site.

A Cumbrae Community Council spokesperson said: “While we support the move to a carbon neutral island and we are in favour of renewable energy, we have serious concerns about this particular application.

"Surely a proper assessment should be carried out to work out whether a solar farm is right for our island, and, if so, whether this is the best location. That doesn’t seem to be much to ask when the proposal affects such a huge area of our island. We rely on tourism for a significant portion of our economy and the solar farm will blight one of our main beauty spots."

The community council said the proposal pre-empts the Carbon Neutral Islands project which will undertake an assessment of the needs of the island and how they might best be met.

The spokesman added: "Involving community consultation, this is likely to include options for renewable power generation, however the work hasn’t been carried out yet. We believe that the proposal undermines this national policy initiative and would send a stark warning to the other islands selected to be carbon neutral, that the views of the community will not be considered, and that proposals will be implemented without proper evaluation and with no local benefit whatsoever.

"We are concerned that the Carbon Neutral Islands project will be used to force this project on us whether it is right for the island or not.”

Comsol Energy, the firm behind the application, claims the project will be beneficial for the island and will help reduce energy bills in the future.