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Wind farm may save standing stones – but not the views

A collection of ancient standing stones could be preserved and even taken off an “at risk” register – if a planned new wind farm gets the go-ahead.

English Heritage had previously objected to plans for a giant wind farm at Scotland Corner, off the A39 at Winnard’s Perch, between Wadebridge and St Columb Major.

The organisation was concerned about the impact of the proposed five 110-metre tall turbines on a number of ancient monuments.

But it is now recommending that the planning application should be approved – subject to conditions guaranteeing the future of historic sites already deemed “at risk”.

In particular, the Nine Maidens standing stones – an important megalith thought to have once been part of a larger collection – have for centuries stood neglected in a nearby field.

English Heritage said it sees the proposed wind farm as an opportunity to bring investment to their care and management, attracting more attention to the site and promoting a greater understanding of their significance.

Nick Russell, of English Heritage, has now written to Cornwall Council’s planners with the conservation organisation’s considered final opinion.

“In addition to the works to a number of barrows there would be major works of conservation, access, presentation and management to the Nine Maidens stone row that would not only see it removed from the Heritage at Risk Register but would make this enigmatic monument once more easily accessible and in a setting that would allow a better appreciation of the monument,” he says. “We would advise the local planning authority that when considering the planning balance for this application, were the above works secured by condition, the heritage gains to the designated assets and the general public would outweigh any harm to the setting of the monuments described earlier.

“As such English Heritage would be minded to support the proposals.”

But English Heritage says the proposed wind farm is so large that it is not possible to mitigate the visual impact of the giant turbines. Instead, the organisation seeks to concentrate on public and environmental benefits.

“The Scotland Corner wind farm, by dint of its sheer scale poses a very real potential for serious harm to the monuments setting, sitting as it does on the edges of an area already well served with renewable energy schemes,” said Mr Russell.

Berkshire-based Coriolis Energy Ltd still has to overcome a large number of objections to its proposal, including concerns from utility companies about the possible disturbance of their radio transmissions. Some local residents are also worried about the cumulative visual impact of another wind farm close to the existing St Breock and Bears Down wind farms, although some other residents support the application.

The company says its project would produce up to 30,000MW of electricity each year, sufficient to power approximately 5,630 homes. Coriolis is also offering “community benefits,” including an annual payment made to a trust fund to support community projects.

The planning application has been before the council since last September, and was originally due to have been determined in January. It is not known when the council will make a decision.