A battle is building over what could become the largest renewable energy park in Cornwall following a fiery public consultation on the plans.
The proposals for a wind farm in Week St Mary alongside a 75-acre solar farm near Bude were first mooted in January.
A public meeting was held yesterday in the village’s parish hall to consider proposals for 11 turbines, 400ft tall, which would stand four times higher than the parish church, with the solar farm to be considered separately at a later date.
Although the meeting was not due to start until 12.30pm, dozens of people turned up two hours early, forcing developer Good Energy to open the doors.
Since the first public consultation on the proposal in February, battle lines have been drawn, with those in attendance talking of rifts in friendships, neighbours on both sides steadfast in their opinion.
However, Good Energy, which recently upgraded Britain’s first commercial wind farm at nearby Delabole, has put together a package of community benefits – including reduced electricity tariffs and an outdoor learning centre – which it hopes, alongside the green values, will generate support for the scheme.
Chief executive Juliet Davenport, said: “We’ve always felt the development of renewables across the UK could be done better and we are now trying to set a blueprint for what you should be doing.
“All renewable sites should be able to bring to the communities that they are hosted by significant benefit. It’s going to be tricky because there’s going to be opposition but we think there will be support for this site. We now need to define a project that really works for this area.”
Plans will be developed before being submitted. When built, the 11 turbines are said to be able to produce enough energy to power 13,600 homes, and provide the infrastructure for the solar farm, which would be adjacent to a 138-acre solar farm already with permission.
However the opposition camp spearheaded by campaign group Communities Against Rural Exploitation (CARE) is hoping the plan will not get that far. Its list of concerns are numerous, and include house prices, noise and visual impact.
Chris Heard, from the group, said the community benefits would not outstrip the detrimental impact on the village. “It still means we are going to have eleven 400ft turbines which are going to be an enormous blot on the landscape,” he said. “Holiday makers are already cancelling their holiday home bookings. There’s a campsite and they are expecting to go out of business. We have been told that house prices wont be affected but a lot of people will just not live anywhere near turbines.”
Dave Smith, from nearby Warbstow, was in favour of the scheme. He said he was a firm believer in the importance of big renewable energy projects.
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