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Approval for solar farm after appeal

By West Briton  |  Posted: August 28, 2014

  • One of the fields which will be turned into a solar farm at Gwinear.

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A SOLAR farm which would spread across ten fields in Gwinear has been approved despite local protests.

Plans for the 75-acre site put forward by Good Energy were refused last year but have now been passed on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

Up to 51,000 solar panels will be installed at Lanyon Farm, enough to power more than 3,000 homes.

As part of the scheme, Gwinear School will get a new car park.

In November, Cornwall Council rejected the plans on grounds that development on grade three agricultural land was unacceptable.

Many residents voiced their concerns about the scale of the site and the impact it would have on the village.

Gwinear-Gwithian Parish Council also opposed it, but following an informal hearing at the site in July, planning inspector George Baird concluded the proposals would not result in the irreversible loss of agricultural land.

"The proposed solar arrays cover two areas north and south of Lanyon," he said. "This area is largely scrubland and its appearance and condition confirms the submission that it has not been used for agricultural production for some considerable time.

"While the proposed life of the solar farm is 30 years, and accepting that some restoration of the land would be required, the land, other than the area to be used for the school car park, would not be irreversibly lost to agriculture.

"Moreover, there is no reason why, during the lifetime of the solar farm, the majority of the land could not be used for agricultural purposes."

He added that the sites were discreet and that the arrays would be well screened from immediate view from most directions by the hedgerows.

Gail Farina, from Gwinear, who campaigned against the solar farm, said the decision was very disappointing.

"We as a village sit right on top of it and we will feel no benefit whatsoever," she said.

"[The report] says one or two small spaces of the array will be visible; we totally disagree with that.

"We feel we've been overlooked; we haven't been properly consulted from the beginning.

"We're going to fight this for as long and as hard as we can."

Several conditions have been attached to the consent, including a requirement for the company to carry out a landscape management plan and an archaeological survey, and submit a design for the school car park to Cornwall Council.

A spokeswoman for Good Energy said: "A timetable is currently being developed with a view to starting construction work on the site towards the end of the year.

"In the meantime, some of the preparation work required as part of the planning conditions is likely to get under way in the next few weeks."

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  • LesGwennap  |  August 28 2014, 2:51PM

    George Baird seems to have more say than any of our elected councillors so much for localism. I notice a few controversial planning applications going through against local opinion.

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