Proposals for a wind farm near Week St Mary have finally been rejected by the government after a lengthy planning and appeal process.
The proposals by Good Energy Generation Ltd to erect 11 wind turbines at Creddacott Farm was originally submitted in 2014 and received widespread objection from local residents and parish councils, with Cornwall Council subsequently refusing planning permission.
The Big Field Wind Farm could have become the first community-owned wind farm to operate without government subsidy.
Good Energy had revised the design, south of Bude in north Cornwall to boost the power output of the site without increasing the maximum height of the turbines.
By using more efficient turbines than originally proposed, the total installed capacity of the wind farm could have been increased to 38.5MW, enabling it to be built and operated without government subsidy support.
The site for the Big Field Wind Farm was on farmland between the villages of Week St Mary, Jacobstow, Warbstow, North Petherwin and Whitstone.
The application was then taken to appeal, and after an investigation by the Planning Inspectorate which has lasted over a year, the appeal was called-in to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to make the final decision.
Today, the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has announced that he is dismissing the appeal because of the negative impacts the wind farm would have on local heritage assets and the landscape.
The local MP, Scott Mann has welcomed today’s announcement:
“I’m very pleased by this decision today. For many months, local residents, parish councils and I have been working together to voice all of our concerns about the impacts this wind farm would have on the beautiful North Cornwall landscape and local heritage assets.
“I have been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with local communities on this issue since I became an MP in 2015 to absolutely ensure local views are not ignored, and after a lengthy appeal process, I’m very pleased that that our concerns have been considered by both the Planning Inspectorate and the Communities Secretary who have recognised that the negative impacts of this wind farm would outweigh any benefits. I’d also like to thank Cllr Nicky Chopak for her work in opposing this wind farm on behalf of local residents.
“In 2015, the Conservative Government said it would give local communities a louder voice when it came to wind farm proposals, and the concerns of local residents in Week St Mary and surrounding communities have certainly been listened to. This proposal has been one of the biggest local issues to come across my desk during my time as an MP”
During the appeal process, a public inquiry was held in Launceston between April and May 2016 where members of the public could submit statements in favour or against the proposals. This included local councillors and Scott Mann, who submitted both written and oral evidence against the proposals because of the widespread objection from local communities.
Explaining why the appeal had been refused, the Secretary of State said he agreed with the conclusion of the Planning Inspector that “there would be harm caused to the significance of a number of designated heritage assets” and that the size and layout of the 11 wind turbines would be “an incongruous presence of significant scale” which would harm the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Heritage Coast.
The Secretary of State did recognise the benefits of the wind farm in terms of renewable energy production which received “significant weight” when reaching a decision. However, Sajid Javid concluded that any benefits of the wind farm did not outweigh the negative impacts upon the landscape and local heritage assets, also recognising that the proposal did not have the backing of the local community.
The Decision Notice on the appeal can be found here.