A FORMER Scottish planning minister has slammed the building of battery energy storage parks on greenbelt land and called for a presumption towards them being built on brownfield sites.
Former SNP MSP Alex Neil said greenbelt should be a “last resort”.
The call echoes that of local campaigns, such as Save our Countryside Cochno Road, fighting back against plans to build these parks on green and agricultural land.
These battery energy storage systems (BESS), giant parks of lithium-ion batteries, are considered key in providing a green energy grid that can cope with fluctuating renewables and supply and demand.
Mr Neil said: “There is absolutely no need for these storage systems and storage facilities to be on greenfield sites. Why use greenfield when brownfield sites would do?”
Mr Neil stressed he is an advocate of the systems. He said: “This is a huge economic opportunity for Scotland because clearly battery energy storage systems are absolutely vital to the expansion of renewable energy – and in particular onshore and offshore wind power.
“It’s an opportunity to massively expand our renewable energy capacity to include and provide for a major export industry in renewable energy.”
He also believes this is “an opportunity” to make good use of “vacant and derelict land to facilitate immediate economic development opportunity – ie BESS facilities.
“Across Scotland there are a vast number of vacant and derelict sites. North Lanarkshire has most of the vacant and derelict sites in Scotland for any authority. It seems sensible to have a presumption in favour of brownfield sites for these developments where brownfield sites are available – and if not brownfield, land zoned for development.”

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