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224-acre solar energy farm plan faces local backlash

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 13, 2012

Solar panels

224-acre solar energy farm plan faces local backlash

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Worried homeowners have vowed to fight proposals for the country's biggest solar farm which would cover 224 acres of Cornish farmland.

Good Energy's proposed scheme could see 135,000 photovoltaic panels installed on farmland near Week St Mary, between Launceston and Bude.

If permitted, the solar farm would be six times size of the country's largest scheme – the 28,000 panels approved this month for Marley Thatch Farm, near South Brent, Devon.

Teacher Pauline Smeeth, whose home is less than half-a-mile from the site, said she was "shocked and angry" with the size of the development.

"I am extremely concerned for the wider community," 59-year-old Mrs Smeeth told the Western Morning News. "What they are proposing is massive. It is very worrying.

"A few years ago we put together a committee to oppose plans for a wind farm here, which was never built.

"Hopefully we can do the same again, so if this does go forward as a planning application we will already be up and running and ready for a fight. We will fight it because that is the kind of community we are.

"I am not against renewable energy but with all these things it is about them being in the right place."

On Cornwall Council's website, Neal Moxon said the "proposed development completely surrounds my property".

"Apart from ruining the natural habitat of the varied wildlife in this tranquil unspoilt area, this proposed development would have a very considerable negative effect on the value of our property," Mr Moxon added.

Good Energy, which owns and operates the wind farm at Delabole, also in North Cornwall, has requested a "scoping opinion" from Cornwall which will determine the extent of the environmental impact assessment needed for the solar farm to go ahead.

In documents submitted to the council, the firm said: "It is Good Energy's intention to seek full planning permission for a ground mounted, solar photovoltaic farm on approximately 91 hectares (224 acres) of land, along with ancillary equipment and inverter houses.

"Detailed site design has yet to be carried out but the power output of the solar farm would nominally be 25 to 30 megawatts."

It explained "preliminary investigations indicate that up to 135,000 panels could be deployed on this site".

Cornwall already has 12 solar farms and 24 more have permission. The largest have a capacity of about five megawatts, enough to supply about 1,000 homes.

German firm Kronos Solar is in talks with another North Cornwall farmer about installing a 25 megawatt solar farm on 120 acres of land at Maxworthy, near Launceston.

Another planning battle is likely in Devon after renewable company Lightsource said it intended to submit a planning application for a 54-acre solar farm at Bowhay Farm, in Shillingford Abbot, near Exeter.

A spokesman for Good Energy stressed the plans for Week St Mary were in the "very early stages".

"We want to engage with the local community and we will follow that process as we do with all our other projects," he said. "We do want to get as many members of the community on board with our plans as we can and take their views into account."

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  • dozerblade  |  August 05 2012, 12:14PM

    now that it is likely that this array of solar panels will be on the hillside at the rear of our property, I think I would rather have the wind turbines,

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  • Pipoldbean  |  July 20 2012, 5:41AM

    224 acres covered in solar panels? Who's "bright idea" was that? I bet those panels are not made in Cornwall...how much of that money goes overseas? Far better plan to use the local skills and resources to build a sustainable solution, geothermal is the obvious choice, Cornwall has been at the forefront of geothermal for years, the holes are already dug! http://tinyurl.com/mq3sq3 If you have to go solar then towers would be more effective use of space http://tinyurl.com/bctm3v

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  • Chunder123  |  July 18 2012, 10:21PM

    foods more important. sadly the way supermarkets operate has turned buying food into modern day rationing. look how puny and skimpy the amounts in supermarkets are becoming. long gone are the days of buying food from famrs directly and people would be given generous amounts and at times given extra out of friendliness which is something non existant with thse supermarkets. THe supermarkets disgust me. THey are starving people by making food not affordable and bumping the price to many low income families. This country is going to feel the effetcs of ww2 for a very longtime. make no mistake the effects of ww2 have done alot of harm. it could be felt for hundreds of years to come in many ways. the results are horrible

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  • shagrats  |  July 18 2012, 1:15PM

    Ive heard that these things dont work at night ! whats the point of that, thats when you need the electric most when its dark. This seems a daft idea to me.

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  July 16 2012, 10:53PM

    @Henry - I do both those things from time to time, albeit rather less than most people. What do you make of Dudley's point though? For example, geothermal has a "load factor" better than anything else, renewable or otherwise. Over 90% beats 5.5% hands down, does it not? What do you make of that point? If subsidies for renewables are a good thing, where would they best be directed?

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  • henryblince  |  July 15 2012, 4:52PM

    @jim_hunt But you do heat your house and you do drive, don't you. So the point is still made.

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  July 15 2012, 7:58AM

    Unfortunately in all the circumstances Homer, shale gas consists of non-renewable hydrocarbons. Not really much of a solution then, unless the boffins can get CCS working properly, in which case it might help provide a temporary fix? Jim

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  • homerjay  |  July 14 2012, 8:44PM

    ...and we shouldn't forget this http://tinyurl.com/d4q5lky

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  July 14 2012, 5:30PM

    Strange you should mention the Eden Geothermal project Dudley! Have you by any chance seen the front page of today's WMN? If not, here's my take: http://tinyurl.com/7dc9xz6 Jim

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  • dudleyswain  |  July 14 2012, 5:05PM

    This rampage of solar panels putting productive farmland out of use is driven by flawed government policy on the subsidies behind solar and turbines. Had the same money and direction gone into tidal, geo-thermal or even nuclear, we'd have 24x7 electricity, no CO2 problems and lots of food-producing land. Well done EGS Energy and Eden Project (http://tinyurl.com/7bf8kaq) for the leading edge on real green energy.

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