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Chapel Amble wind turbine battle to be fought again

Planning officials are preparing to re-run a hearing which will decide if a large wind turbine can be built near Chapel Amble.The High Court has ordered a new public inquiry after ruling that a government inspector failed to adequately consider the visual impact of the 250-feet tall turbine on St Endellion church.

Although nearly a mile from St Endellion, the turbine would become a significant feature in the landscape – and, objectors believe, would have a damaging visual impact on the 13th century Grade 1 listed church.The church is also famous as the place where Prime Minister David Cameron chose to christen his daughter Florence, following her birth in Cornwall in 2010 – one of her Christian names is Endellion.

Cornwall Council refused planning permission in 2012, but the following year this decision was overturned by a government inspector.Earlier this year, the High Court ruled that the inspector had failed to adequately consider the visual impact on the church – and quashed the consent.

But the Planning Inspectorate, in correspondence with the council as both organisations prepare for the second public inquiry, said it was possible the new hearing could reach the same conclusion as the first.

The original planning application prompted more than 140 written comments, most of them opposed to the wind turbine.One of the most significant objectors was English Heritage, which said it was generally supportive of wind energy as a way of mitigating climate change, but felt that this particular turbine could have a negative impact on a wide area, dwarfing a number of church towers and challenging “their historic and picturesque dominance of this largely anciently enclosed landscape.”

Other objectors agreed. Anthony Brookes said: “Having lived in Cornwall for many years and been a pupil at Port Isaac School I know this area well. To allow this application would be an insult to anyone who is genuinely Cornish.”

Gary Jennings pointed out that St Endellion’s was not the only church affected.“From our property the spire at St Minver church can be clearly seen,” he said. “This turbine is in a direct line between our property and the church. The tips will be higher than the spire.”

The High court challenge was brought by solicitors Richard Buxton, working with the Amble Valley Group – a group of residents from the Chapel Amble area.The group declined to comment on the re-run appeal, but in their original submission about the application they said: “The proposal is contrary to a whole raft of development plan policies. These conflicts with the development plan are not outweighed by the benefits of the proposal.”

Legal costs were awarded against Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Supporters of the proposal, which include the Wadebridge-based Clean Earth Energy company, said the turbine would generate sufficient electricity to power 439 homes. In a letter addressing points raised by objectors, Clean Earth Energy said : “we feel the development will have no impact on the local tourism businesses.”

The turbine would be built at Smeather’s Farm, Chapel Amble, owned by Andrew Hawkey.Anyone who wants to comment on the proposal has until December 5 to make written representations. The new appeal hearing is expected in the New Year.