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Decision to be made on taller turbines

A major application for a £20 million upgrade to a wind farm on the Lizard Peninsula could be approved, if Kerrier councillors listen to their planning officers’ advice.

Council officers have recommended approving the application despite recognising it would have a significant adverse impact on a landscape designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Although this being contrary to council policy officers think the application should go ahead as the benefits would outweigh the disadvantages.

Cornwall Light and Power plans to develop its Goonhilly Downs site by replacing the 14 existing turbines with six new taller turbines.

These are expected to be twice the height of existing turbines, with the tips of the blades reaching 107 metres Staff behind the project claim that the result would be enough power to supply 10,000 homes – enough to cover all the households in the Helston and Lizard area.

The site currently only generates enough electricity to power 2,000 homes.

Council officers said the application was assessed against a balancing act of need and benefits against the resulting landscape and visual harm.

A report prepared for councillors due to decide the application, said while parts of the peninsula will see significant impact, there are areas that will see none.

It added however the AONB refusal could not be justified, particularly when weighed against the targets for renewable energy production at a regional and county level.

Cornwall AONB Partnership disagreed saying the plans would have an “negative impact” on the landscape and the proposal is contrary to a number of AONB planning policies.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has also objected to the plans.

Nearby Cury parish council, the Environment Agency and Natural England raised no objection to the plans.

The report concludes the wind farm would make “a significant contribution to renewable energy generation”.

However due to an adverse impact on the landscape the development would “not contribute to the conservation and enhancement of the AONB as required by policy”.

The report recommends Kerrier Council should approve the application even though the development may be at odds with policy.

Kerrier district council planning committee will decide the application at a meeting on Tuesday.

By Jonathan Millar

This Is The West Country

14 May 2008