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A typical solar farm
Cornwall countryside protection charity CPRE has welcomed the rejection of solar farm ‘slap bang in the middle of open countryside’
The local branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England CPRE has congratulated Cornwall councillors for going against the recommendations of their planning officers and rejecting plans for a six-megawatt solar farm on high-grade agricultural land near St Austell, just 200 metres from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Last month, Cornwall CPRE objected to a planning application for a solar farm, battery storage and associated infrastructure at Tregorrick Farm. It opposed the development because it was “not part of a plan in which the visual and agricultural environment is being properly cared for and protected”.
Council rejects solar farm plans despite declaring a climate emergency
It believed officers had understated the impact on the landscape and setting of the AONB. The charity was also extremely concerned by Cornwall Council’s decision not to require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Planning officers deemed that the application was “finely balanced” but had recommended approval because they believed the benefits of providing renewable energy outweighed the harm to the land.
However, councillors were unconvinced and refused permission on environmental grounds, effectively placing a higher value on the local landscape than the council’s stated commitment to increasing renewable energy in Cornwall.
Commenting on the decision, Cornwall CPRE Chair Richard Stubbs said, “All credit to the councillors for giving just recognition to Cornwall’s precious landscapes and refusing a wholly inappropriate industrial development slap bang in the middle of open countryside. Cornwall CPRE welcomes this decision, which we believe creates a precedent for similar applications to build solar farms on productive farmland.
He added, “The issue here is not renewable energy per se. This was the wrong location for a solar farm. Why waste high-grade farmland that could be used to produce food? In the long term, it’s far more sustainable to increase our self-sufficiency in food production and reduce unnecessary food miles that create CO2 emissions.
There are plenty of brownfield sites in Cornwall where ground-mounted solar panels could be installed, not in open countryside next to an AONB.”
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