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Chairman at the centre of wind turbine debate

A parish council chairman is at the centre of controversy over his application to build a 130ft wind turbine in his village.

Andrew Harris, chairman of Lanivet Parish Council, has put forward the plans for a 250kW turbine on land at his Higher Woodley Farm in Lanivet.

The application has angered locals who put together a 143-strong petition in objection to the scheme and Cornwall Council has also received scores of objection letters as well as comments posted online.

At an extraordinary meeting of Lanivet Parish Council on Thursday last week villagers packed in to hear a debate on the issue, after which the parish council chose to back Mr Harris’s plans.

His application comes a year after the parish council rejected an application for a smaller 20kW turbine in Nanstallon.

Bryan Sautelle-Smith, of Berry Lane, Nanstallon, spoke at Thursday’s meeting on behalf of Nanstallon residents.

He said there was strong objection locally to Mr Harris’s application.

“At present there are no wind turbines visible from Nanstallon following our successful challenge to an application last year,” he told the meeting.

“If the planning committee felt that one of 20kW was too big for our landscape, then this one at 250kW can surely only be described as ridiculous?”

He said there had also been no Environmental Impact Assessment carried out; that the planning application documents were not detailed enough; surveys for wildlife, such as bats, had not been carried out; it was close to The Saints Way walk; that there was no community benefit package attached to the scheme and that access to the site was “woefully inadequate”.

However, after a lengthy debate, the parish council voted to support the application.

It will now go before Cornwall Council for a final decision. It is not yet known whether it will be heard by a planning committee or be decided by an officer under delegated authority.

In response to the claims Mr Harris said: “Every site is different. We have been told that it is an excellent site with high wind speed and a low visual impact. We have been approached by a number of companies over the years about putting up a turbine.

“You have to do what you can to maximise the potential and we are doing that by harvesting the wind.”

He said proper procedure had been followed.

“The offer was made that if a parishioner requested a public meeting on wind turbine application then we should have one. The parish council obliged with the meeting on Thursday; I can’t call a meeting myself on my own application.”

However, fellow parish councillor Tracey Osborne said she was disappointed by some comments made at the meeting.

“One comment was that the Harris family have been around a lot longer than anyone else there so why shouldn’t they have it if they want it?

“I have lived in the local area my entire life, as have others, and my family have been here for generations so why should our wish not to see it be any less regarded than his wish to have it?

“Maybe it just gets taken for granted by a few of those who have lived here all their lives and don’t realise how lucky we really are.”

Cornwall councillor for Lanivet, Mick Martin, said he would be requesting the application go before the council’s planning committee.