A proposal for five towering wind turbines on farmland near Truro would be “catastrophic” for historic buildings and character of the local area, a planning inquiry was told.
Passions ran high during the six-day hearing at Trispen into the appeal against refusal of permission for the 120m turbines at Truthan Barton, St Erme, which even heard claims their “distraction” would endanger cricketers.
The emotive language included references to HG Wells’ sinister novel, War Of The Worlds.
London-based Coronation Power Ltd’s 2008 application for seven wind turbines was thrown out by a planning inspector, unsuccessfully challenged in the High Court.
This latest appeal comes after permission for its scaled-down wind farm, which could provide enough energy to power 5,600 homes, was rejected by Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee.
It said the “overbearing” development would adversely impact the unspoilt medieval landscape and character of listed buildings like Truthan Manor.
In his closing speech solicitor Martin Pearse, representing campaign group 2 Big 2 Close, cited an “unreasonable proliferation” of turbines at Four Burrows and Carland Cross, with more in the pipeline at Fraddon Hill.
He said the turbines would have an adverse visual impact, “tower” over residents and “loom over houses”.
He said Truthan Manor’s owner, Dominic Byrne, compared the proposal to Wells’ apocalyptic tale as the industrial structures “marched down the land”.
He also claimed distraction by the turbines would put players at St Erme Cricket Club at increased risk of injury, adding: “Cricket is a dangerous and deadly sport … players collect a fast object flying towards them.”
Thirty-three residents and campaigners were invited to speak at the inquiry, which concluded with site visits on Thursday and Friday.
Representing Cornwall Council, Gavin Collett said the turbines would cause a 25-year problem with harm that could not be outweighed by benefits which would not be enjoyed by locals.
Representing Coronation Power, David Manley, QC, said the developer wanted to amend the plans, moving a turbine near Castle Cottage to avoid bat routes. Mr Manley said the risk to cricketers was minimal, never been raised before and a “Johnny-come-lately” attempt at sabotage.
He told the presiding planning inspector, George Baird: “There is no shred of evidence of the owners’ (Truthan Manor) assertions it will have a catastrophic effect. It’s an easy threat to make – you may feel someone put a gun to your head. I invite you to attach no weight to it at all.”