The Ministry of Defence has objected to plans to put up three giant wind turbines at a beauty spot in South East Cornwall.
The 81-metre (266ft) turbines on Mendennick Hill, between the villages of St John and Millbrook, could interfere with MoD radar systems and would be visible from Plymouth.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation is among dozens of opponents to the planning application submitted to Cornwall Council by Truro-based REG Windpower.
The MoD objects because it says the turbines would cause “unacceptable interference” to the air traffic control radar six miles away at Wembury.
It says the effects could include desensitisation of the radar which could result in aircraft not being detected. They could also create false signals that would look like real planes to air traffic controllers.
Other objectors say that with their location on Rame peninsula hilltop, the turbines would stand almost twice as tall as the Tamar, Tavy and Lynher towers in Devonport.
Among the objectors is Falklands hero Vice-Admiral Sir John Coward, who lives near Torpoint.
“It will have a significant adverse impact on the landscape across the peninsula in a popular tourist area and will also cause unjustifiable disruption to the village of Antony during its construction,” Sir John and Lady Coward write.
“We feel it is unnecessary as Cornwall has already exceeded its renewables target.
“The Prime Minister says that wind farms should be ‘community-led’. This one is not.”
REG Windpower predicts that the 850kW turbines will generate about 7.5GWh of renewable energy per year – enough to power 1,700 average households. REG Windpower, which started life as Cornwall Light and Power Company in 1989, operates 12 wind farms around the country and has offices in Truro and Bath.
The five parish councils on the peninsula have written to oppose the development. Antony Parish Council says: “The wind farm is not an appropriate development.”
Objector Liz Sierant said: “The Rame peninsula is a hidden part of Cornwall with outstanding uninterrupted views.
“It has been kept unspoilt for everyone to continue to enjoy it, and attracts many tourists.”
Savills, acting for the Antony Estate, opposes the turbines, which it says will dominate two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the Rame Peninsula and the Tamar Valley.
The Rame Against Windfarms (RAW) action group says the turbines would have an adverse effect on tourism and local employment.
Ian Lawrence, a spokesman for REG Windpower , said the MoD’s objection was “far from unusual” on wind turbine planning applications. “It is our view that effective mitigation measures exist, but it will be down to us to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of the MoD.”
Tracey Siddle, REG Windpower’s development manager for the project, said: “Developing wind farms is about striking a balance between designing a scheme capable of generating significant quantities of safe, clean, renewable electricity and minimising the effects on the local environment. Our technical and environmental studies have demonstrated that three turbines on Mendennick Hill achieves this. We have held six sessions with members of the local communities over the last 18 months to explain the project and hear their views. There has been a very positive response from many residents on the Rame Peninsula who recognise that we need to generate as much renewable energy as we can.”
The company has set up a website, www.mendennickwindfarm.co.uk, where to interact with residents.
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