The community group aiming to find renewable energy opportunities in Fowey says it remains hopeful its plans to install a small-scale wind turbine at Penhale Farm will be given the green light – despite the fierce opposition of the town council.
More than 60 people crammed the town hall to discuss the application at a heated public meeting held on Wednesday evening – with mayor John Berryman threatening to clear the room after the chairman of Fowey Regeneration Energy Enterprise (FREE) was heckled.
Opponents said the turbine would harm the values of their homes and businesses, the adjacent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the town’s tourism industry.
Diane Whalley said the environment was a “major asset” to Fowey and in parts of Europe tourism had fallen by 50 per cent due to wind turbine installations. “Who will be accountable for the loss of business?” she asked.
e Government’s feed-in tariff and dismissed claims of a substantial impact on tourism.
“There’s no concrete evidence that tourism in this country is affected by wind turbines,” said Fowey resident Sinead Griffiths. “To say people will drive to Penhale and not go on to see the beauty of Fowey because of one wind turbine is ridiculous.”
FREE’s first plan for a larger turbine was opposed by the town council last year and chairman Christine Wharton said it had amended its plans in response to feedback.
“We’ve reduced the size of the turbine from 36 to 24 metres,” she told the meeting. “In addition, we moved the site for this application 59 metres north-east of the old site, further away from the people who were against it.”
A full town council meeting followed the debate, with Councillor Tony Delves saying: “I accept the need for renewable energy – only a fool would believe we could carry on using fossil fuels in generations to come – but I believe this is a very high price to pay.
“If this is approved the next application will say, ‘You approved one at Penhale; therefore you have to approve this one’.”
The only councillor to support FREE’s application was Ruth Finlay.
“Stepping up to the mark is by no means to say we are going to damage the environment as dramatically as some people were suggesting tonight,” she said.
Mr Delves proposed the council recommend to Cornwall Council, the planning authority, that it refuse the application because of the turbine’s “negative visual impact it would have on the AONB”, which is located opposite the proposed site. The motion was carried 4-1, with one abstention.
Following the meeting Mrs Wharton said the group was still hopeful Cornwall Council would approve the plans.
Regarding the town council’s opposition, she said: “I’m afraid we weren’t surprised by the decision, as we felt it was a foregone conclusion.
“We know it’s inevitable that the turbine will have a small visual impact but at a hub height of just 24.8 metres – lower than the Gribbin tower, which is 2.12 miles away – we do not believe its scale is sufficient to affect the AONB.”
For more on FREE, see letters page 39 and for more on the renewable energy debate in Cornwall see our special report on pages 26 and 27.
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