A PROPOSAL to construct and operate a battery energy storage facility on agricultural land near a Borders village must address environmental concerns before planning approval is considered.

Waltie Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), with capacity for approximately 150MV, is proposed for land west of Craigsfield Farmhouse in Earlston.

The bid is the latest in a number of agreed to or applied for battery storage plants in the region.

Scottish Borders Council has now deemed that, given the scale of the proposed development, a thorough assessment of its potential environmental impacts must be assessed as part of any prospective planning application.

The applicant, E Grid Services Limited, has been asked to submit an assessment on the impact on bird habitats, trees, traffic levels, the visual landscape and local archaeological sites.

A council report, from planning officer Kyle Wise, says: “The site has potential to be visible in long range views across the landscape including from the Southern Upland Way (in close proximity) and Blackhill (within the Eildon and Leaderfoot National Scenic Area) and Earlston.

“As such the proposal has potential for adverse landscape and visual effects, particularly if the develop-able area was to be extended.”

The latest proposed development would consist of multiple containerised lithium-ion battery storage units, and ancillary equipment such as transformers, power inverters, switchgear, spares stores, and an onsite substation.

The units would be approximately 5m tall, 5m wide and 12m long.

In a report with the application, SLR Consulting Limited (SLR), on behalf of its client, E Grid Services Limited, argues that the development would not have a significant impact on the environment.

It is expected that the construction period would be approximately 12 months, with a peak construction workforce of approximately 50 personnel.

The report says: “The potential for significant landscape and visual effects in relation to these designations are expected to be limited by the size and scale of the proposed development, the relative distance between the develop-able area and the designated sites, and the screening likely to be provided by woodland, shelter-belts and hedgerows in the intervening landscape.

“Overall, it is considered that the potential for significant effects on landscape and visual receptors, which would trigger the need for EIA, is limited. This is largely due to limited expected inter-visibility of the proposed development resulting from the landform and vegetation in the local landscape.

“The proposed development would provide employment during the construction and decommissioning phases. Employment during the operational phase would be limited, with only servicing / maintenance work required.

“The creation of jobs is not likely to be significant, however it is considered unlikely that there would be any adverse impacts on local businesses.”