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Residents prepare to fight wind farm plan

Proposals for three giant wind turbines at a beauty spot in South East Cornwall would “tower” over neighbouring communities, residents have warned.

Truro-based REG Windpower is developing plans to build the 81-metre (266ft) turbines on Mendennick Hill, between the villages of St John and Millbrook. But at a two-hour public meeting in St John, attended by around 80 people, a number of concerns, ranging from noise to visual impact, were raised.

Villager Tim Bacon warned that the turbines, which would have a capacity of 2.5MW, would be “controversial”.

“I would suggest that the message to take back to your company is that this will be quite a battle,” Mr Bacon said, “and that there will be easier places to spend your money.

“You are up against it, you will be opposed. You just need to be aware that we are very concerned and will be increasingly concerned as the process goes on.”

The company, which already operates sites at Goonhilly, Roskrow and St Breock in Cornwall, wants to erect the turbines on a ridge which would make them visible from as far away as Dartmoor.

And residents questioned why they had chosen “a prominent uphill site” so close to St John which is designated as a conservation area.

“You have got the whole of Cornwall to choose from,” Karl Suffell said. “Why would you choose that location up there. I don’t understand the logic.”

Derek Richards, vice chairman of St John Parish Council, added: “This village, the people of Freathy and the whole of the parish do live under strict planning restrictions, we can’t do what we want with our homes.

“We are in a conservation area and we accept that. What we do find difficult to accept, with all the choices around, is putting the turbines in such a position that they tower over a conservation area.”

Cornwall Council planning officer Steve Jefferson told the meeting that the developers would be required to submit a detailed “environmental statement” with the application because of its “scale and significance”.

Tracey Siddle, the company’s development manager, said the 81-metre turbines were the optimum for the site and would put “a lot of energy in the grid” but without the “massive overbearing that you would have with something over 100 metres”. She said they were committed to “pre-application consultation” and were “not trying to hide anything” from residents.

The process was still in its “very, very early stages” and the company was still gathering the necessary data about the site. She promised that a fund would be established to benefit affected communities.

The earliest a planning application would be submitted to Cornwall Council, she said, would be in the spring or summer next year.