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Turbine firm admits ‘significant effects’

Controversial wind turbine proposals in an area of Cornwall which would dwarf an iconic church are attracting major opposition.

Truro-based REG Windpower first revealed its plans for three, 81 metre (266ft) turbines on Mendennick Hill, between the villages of St John and Millbrook, in South East Cornwall, in the summer of 2011.

It has now lodged a planning application for the 2.5 megawatt scheme which it says would generate enough electricity to serve 1,700 homes “making a valuable contribution to local and regional renewable energy targets”.

But opponents fear the massive turbines – which would be seen from as far afield as Kit Hill, near Callington, Dartmoor and Looe Island – would dominate the area, highlighting the fact they would be four times the height of the 15th century church at Maker on the Rame peninsula.

Maggie Cardew, spokesman for the Rame Against Wind action group, said the turbines would be “overbearing” and far too close to homes, exposing them to noise and possible flicker from the blades.

Mrs Cardew, who lives in St John, said: “We are very concerned about the impact this could have across the Rame peninsula both in terms of being a blight on the landscape but also the potential impact on the tourism industry that this part of Cornwall primarily relies upon.”

The turbines, which would stand about 500 metres from the nearest homes, are being opposed by the five nearest parish councils. Dozens of objections have so far been posted on Cornwall Council’s planning website.

Bill Honey, a 49-year-old geo-spatial consultant, lives in the nearby clifftop village of Freathy.

Mr Honey said he was not opposed to renewable energy and had solar panels on his own roof. But he added: “I think this particular area of Cornwall is extremely beautiful and by rights they should not be put here at all.

“There is a place for everything and this isn’t the right place.”

REG Windpower operates 12 wind farms around the UK, with three in Cornwall.

In detailed reports it conceded that “residents of St John, visitors to Whitsand Bay Holiday Park, users of the public bridleway to the east and users of the public footpath to the west would experience significant effects on views”.

It added: “Significant effects would also apply to the AGLV (area of great landscape value), within which the site lies, and to the St John conservation area due to its proximity to the site.

“In the majority of cases, the visual effects of the operational wind farm would not be significant due to a combination of distance, topography and intervening landform and vegetation.”

Tracey Siddle, REG Windpower’s development manager for the Mendennick 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.”