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Controversial – but revised – plans for a wind farm at Scotland Corner, on the A39 between Wadebridge and St Columb, have again prompted concern from Cornwall Council officials about the impact on the landscape.
In April, planners voted 10-9 to refuse permission for five 110-metre tall turbines on the 50-acre site at Rosenannon Downs, close to a number of megalith stones. Almost immediately, the Berkshire-based Coriolis A39 Wind Farm Ltd submitted new plans for five turbines which would be only 100-metres tall.
More than six months later, the planning application is still not decided. Some councillors fear it is inevitable that should they again reject the application, the company will appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Councillors hope to make a decision, locally, early in the New Year.
Last week, the council’s landscape officer said the revised turbine height would make little difference.
“The cumulative effect of introducing this development into a landscape of scattered turbines of varying sizes, with different combinations of individual and multiple turbines, in such close proximity creates a cluttered landscape, where one of the key characteristics now must be described as wind turbines,” she said. “This is contrary to the landscape strategy for this area where the vision was for a landscape where it would be possible to appreciate the character of the landscape without wind energy development dominating every view.”
In April, planning officers had recommended approval, acknowledging the visual impact on the landscape but advising that the long-term benefits of renewable energy outweighed these considerations. Councillors defied the recommendation of these officials to reject the plan.
The wind farm would also host weather monitoring and telecommunications towers. If approved, the turbines would have to be fitted with red flashing lights to warn aircraft approaching Newquay Airport.
Coriolis says it is exploring various forms of community ownership for the proposed wind farm, but has yet to find a model which commands local confidence. The application says: “Whilst there are obvious challenges associated with realising the more ambitious forms of community involvement, the developer has pledged at minimum to offer a £1 million stake in the project, to take the form of a revenue share instrument administered by a locally-based organisation and offering priority to local investors.”
Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage) supports the proposed wind farm provided the developers take steps to enhance and protect the ancient monuments, which for centuries have been neglected and are officially classed as “at risk.” The best known of these is the Nine Maidens alignment, visible from the main A39 road. Historic England suggests that the wind farm development could include a car park and signage, to encourage and promote a better appreciation of the prehistoric site.
The site is also close to the St Breock and Bears Downs wind farms, and planning consents already exist for others in the area.
Local town and parish councils, including Withiel Parish Council, fear the turbines would be visible from the village church, “essentially industrialising the rural landscape”. Wadebridge Town Council, and St Columb Town Council, have also lodged objections.
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