The Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN) has pulled out of talks aimed at developing a form of community-ownership for the proposed Scotland Corner windfarm, off the A39 near Winnard’s Perch.
WREN said it was “stepping back” from the project after getting a cool response from local councils.
A Berkshire-based developer wants to build five 100-metre tall turbines on a 50-acre site at Rosenannon Downs, close to a number of megaliths. The application follows an almost identical bid for five 110-metre tall turbines, which Cornwall’s planners rejected by 10 votes to 9 in April.
The developers have offered to share the financial benefits of the project, but attempts to find an ownership model which would ensure profits stayed in Cornwall have so far failed to convince the local community. In recent years WREN has helped to promote a number of solar farm projects in the Wadebridge area but had not previously got involved with any wind farm applications. A few months ago WREN offered to help with the Scotland Corner project – but has now withdrawn.
In a New Year message to its members, WREN says: “We have not to date promoted any wind developments. This project was worth considering as the output would have been more or less the same as the domestic consumption of the entire Wadebridge, Padstow and St Columb areas, so that we could have been able to control our own cheaper, and inflation-proof, electricity supply over the twenty year life of the facility.
“All profits would have been for local use, so, in addition to supporting local good causes, we could potentially have helped fill the funding gap for valued local services like libraries and public toilets where local budgets are likely to be increasingly stretched over coming years.
“In addition, local people would have been able to get a good return on their savings if they had wanted to invest in the project.
“Something of this scale clearly requires the collaboration and support of key local bodies. So, before putting the options to the WREN membership for a decision on whether to explore this further, we have been in discussion with all the local town and parish councils around Scotland Corner.
“They have all been asked whether they would consider collaborating on investigating the merits of the project, and invited to appoint one of their number to the board of the dedicated community energy company that would progress the project.
“This arrangement was designed to give local councils unprecedented influence not only on the planning decision, but also upon the subsequent decision on whether the achievable benefits were sufficient for building the project.
“However the councils themselves did not wish to engage further, so the project cannot be developed in a collaborative way.
“WREN will therefore step back and not engage with this project any further, as opportunities like this, however strong may be their merits, only have value where there is also strong local support.”
A few weeks ago Cornwall Council’s landscape officer said the revised turbine height would make little difference to the impact of the proposed windfarm. Town councils at Wadebridge and St Columb, and local parish councils, are maintaining their objection to the project claiming it would be “a blot on the landscape.”
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 early in the New Year.