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Massive turbine scheme unveiled

Plans have been drawn up for the biggest wind farm in Cornwall, the WMN can reveal.

Community Windpower, the company behind the proposal, wants to plant 20 towering turbines in and around Davidstow Woods just outside Camelford, North Cornwall.

At more than twice the height of Nelson’s Column from base to blade tip, the 414ft monoliths on part of the deserted Second World War airbase would be the tallest in both Devon and Cornwall.

They would eclipse the nine 394ft turbines approved on the Den Brook Valley, near North Tawton in West Devon, and the controversial Fullabrook Down project on the table in North Devon, whose 22 towers stand at 360ft each.

At 50 megawatt (MW), Davidstow Community Windfarm would have the capacity to generate nearly five times the amount of renewable energy as Cornwall’s two biggest existing wind farms.

Anti-wind farm protesters reacted angrily to the plans, chiefly because the scheme near to the Dairy Crest factory in Davidstow is within a three-mile radius of turbine clusters at Delabole and Cold Northcott.

Furthermore, the proposal comes just as another plan for four large turbines on land at nearby Lenewth has surfaced. A further five turbines close to Otterham, again in the vicinity of Davidstow, are also being considered.

Community Windpower said the remote, thinly-populated site was the largest and best-suited brownfield pitch in Cornwall, one of the windiest regions in the country. The firm added that electricity generated by the wind farm, which would supply the local distribution network, would be enough to power 28,000 homes.

Rod Wood, director of Community Windpower, stressed the company was anxious to “engage with the local community”.

“We are very keen to be as open and transparent as possible and to engage with the local community in this exciting renewable energy proposal.

“We will listen to local residents and accommodate their ideas and suggestions.”

The Cheshire-based firm added it had deliberately rationed the energy generation capacity of the so-called Davidstow Community Windfarm to 50MW.

Beyond that figure, planning approval would transfer to the Department for Trade and Industry, as opposed to North Cornwall District Council. This has been the case with the 66MW-strong Fullabrook Down project near Ilfracombe.

Harnessing power from “clean” sources such as wind, wave and sun is seen as having an increasingly important role to play in the battle to combat climate change.

Community Windpower says the energy produced at Davidstow would, in the current market, annually replace more than 113,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide pumped out by coal-fired power stations. It represents 32,000 cars taken off the road in Cornwall, the firm went on.

Despite sitting on a windswept peninsula surrounded by water, the South West has so far failed to capitalise fully on the growing demand for renewables.

In April, the WMN found that just 2 per cent of the power used to heat and run homes and buildings in the South West comes from green technology sources. By 2010, the regional goal has been set at between 11 and 15 per cent.

Matthew Spencer, chief executive of Regen SW, the driving force behind the region’s renewables push, said: “We’d encourage councils in Cornwall to consider new wind proposals with an open mind. Wind remains the cheapest and most powerful renewable energy technology available to us at the moment, and Cornwall will not maintain its lead in renewable energy unless some new schemes are approved.”

But Community Windpower faces a stiff battle with a local community embittered at having to carry the renewables can and the “ruined landscapes” that come with it. North Cornwall produces more renewable energy than any other South West district, principally because much of the area lacks built-up populations.

Keith Goodenough, a local farmer and chairman of the North Cornwall-based Group Against Windfarm Proliferation (GAWP), said he was already surrounded by wind farms in Delabole and Cold Northcott, and would be swamped even further if scores of new turbines came to life.

He said: “If you count them up there’ll be more than 60 turbines within less than five miles. And that’s generous. And they can all be seen from one place. That seems to be over-doing it to me.

“You can rest assured that GAWP will fight it. We are not against generating electricity from the wind, but we shall make representations against any more wind farms in North Cornwall.

“I’m sure we could rally a big demonstration against it. We have in the past. We are NIMBYs (not in my backyard) – I don’t mind being called that. But we have got enough of them here.”

Community Windpower has devised a charm offensive which includes plans to revitalise Davidstow Woods and invest around £1 million over ten years into a “carbon neutral” plan for Camelford.

Details of open exhibitions to be held next week can be found on a dedicated website, www.davidstowcommunitywindfarm.co.uk

By Graeme Demianyk


12 July 2007