FIFE COUNCIL is set to voice its objections to the creation of a battery energy storage facility in Kincardine.

At their meeting yesterday (Wednesday), members of the Central and West Fife planning committee were due to be asked to agree to recommendations from planners that they advise the Scottish Government that permission should not be granted for the proposal within Devilla Forest.

Councillors were set to hear of concerns that woodland would be lost for the development and extra planting to compensate would be carried out 20 kilometres away at Gleneagles.

The local authority has been consulted about the plans for the installation of a 500MW battery energy storage facility and associated infrastructure at the West Fife woodland site.

A report from head of planning services Pam Ewen said the location was the site of a sawmill which ceased to operate in March 2020.

"The proposed battery storage development would provide the facility to store electricity at times of low demand and feed that into the Grid at peak demand times, thus assisting in maintaining balance and stability in a National Grid increasingly reliant upon renewable sources," she said.

"The expected operating lifetime of the development has not been established."

In a statement for its planning application to the Scottish Government, agents for applicants Alcemi Storage Developments 3 Limited explained they were seeking permission for the construction of the facility on land at Devilla Forest, in an area known as Kirkton Wood.

"The proposals fall under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 as its capacity exceeds 50 megawatts, and as such the application has been made to the Scottish ministers as the appropriate consenting authority," it stated.

"The facility would assist in making the energy supply more reliable and able to better accommodate more renewable electricity generation, as it will help to maintain the stability of the National Grid which is required because of the fluctuations which can result from the use of renewable electricity sources."

Ms Ewan said development of the site would lead to the "permanent loss" of habitat identified as part of the Ancient Woodland Inventory of Scotland Long Established (of Plantation origin).

She said mitigation measures offered as part of the application included ecological enhancement and woodland management on-site, as well as compensatory planting 20 kilometres away from the site.

"To mitigate for the adverse impacts resulting from the woodland and habitat removal, the applicant proposes to plant a block of woodland planting on the site, providing approximately 0.47ha of new woodland," she stated.

"In addition, off-site compensatory planting is proposed, which would create approximately 16ha of new woodland, to be managed as forestry. This would provide a net gain in the total area of forestry habitat as a result of the development.

"The proposed off-site planting would take place at the Gleneagles Estate in rural Perthshire, some 20km from the application site.

"The planning authority is not supportive of the proposal to mitigate the significant impacts of the development through compensatory planting located some 20km from the application site.

"Additionally, it is considered that the applicant has not demonstrated a need for the development’s chosen location within the woodland, with a more appropriate location deemed to be available in the vicinity – the development of which would not necessitate the removal of a significant area of woodland."