There’s not much that eclipses Knill’s Steeple as one of St Ives’ most obvious and most iconic landmarks.
The 200-year-old, 50ft high, granite obelisk may be a testament to one man’s vanity but it has pride of place on the St Ives skyline with little to overshadow it. That may be about to change.
A Bristol company has revealed it is considering whether to place a 90ft wind turbine on land within spitting distance of the monument off Laity Lane.
Although the company – called Aspire Planning – has not even got as far as lodging a planning application, and still might not, the suggestion has caused anger in the town.
Objector Lorna Murray, who wrote to Cornwall Council planners, said: “I am amazed, shocked and extremely concerned that any energy company would think of putting a … wind turbine in this very sensitive environment. Somehow I think somebody got this wrong.”
Aspire is acting as an agent for the wind turbine’s potential owner.
Cornwall Council has confirmed Aspire made what is known as a “screening request” to find out if planners think any application would need to include an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) because of the nature of the site.
The historic monument sits at the top of Steeple Woodlands Nature Reserve, a green lung for the people of St Ives which is maintained by dedicated volunteers.
The information submitted to the authority shows a single 90ft wind turbine 300 metres south west of the monument, so part of it would be obscured by the hilltop.
Planners decided last week that any application would need an EIA – a report on the turbine’s potential impact on the environment.
But those against it are already clear.
Objector Rita Laity wrote: “Even this single structure would be potentially dangerous and would compromise this green wedge of mixed habitat which is of great importance to wildlife, especially to migrating birds.
“Although the proposed turbine would be hidden by Worvas Hill from certain directions, a large white turbine with its whirling blades, would be all too visible from Knill’s Monument itself and from all the inland viewpoints, over a very wide area.”
St Ives Town Council, which was due to discuss the issue last Thursday, withdrew it from the agenda once Cornwall Council decided an EIA was needed.
Impassioned locals have already fought off one plan to develop in the area in recent years.
Cornwall Care proposed to build a new care home there to replace their two existing St Ives homes for the elderly.
The charity withdrew its plans in the face of overwhelming opposition and is now working with St Ives Town Council to find a new site.
Knill’s Steeple, or Knill’s Monument, was built by former Mayor John Knill in 1782, at the top of Worvas Hill.
The three-sided spire was due to mark Knill’s final resting place, but by his death in 1811 he was no longer in St Ives.
Knill’s will stipulated that every five years on July 25 ten young girls dressed in white lead the town in a dance to the steeple. He actually took part in the first ceremony in 1801. The latest ceremony took place on July 25, 2011.