PLANS for 400 additional solar panels on a farm just outside the village of Lerryn near Lostwithiel have been given approval despite concerns about the site encroaching onto an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and devaluing properties.
In addition to the 104 panels already built on Collon Barton farm in 2011, owner Iain Mackie has now been given the go ahead to expand after Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee met Monday night.
Although many local residents and St Veep Parish Council objected to the plans on the farm, which lies 500 metres north of Lerryn, planning officers didn’t believe the cumulative impact was sufficient to reject the application after visiting the site on Friday.
Officers felt the solar farm wasn’t visible from the majority of Lerryn after the site visit and therefore had no objections to the recommendation of approval by case officer Samuel Dunn.
“When it comes to solar farm or wind turbine applications we actually go out and visit the site to determine its potential impact and see it in its context; officers can then decide whether it’s dominating or if there is cumulative impact,” Planning committee chairman Andrew Long said.
Despite the visit, local resident Marguerite Butt said the officers didn’t view the site from School Lane, where she says around 12-14 properties will be blighted by the panels.
“Although outside the village envelope, the site abuts the village boundary and is clearly visible from a number of approaches into Lerryn and also from properties whose unique-selling-point is the view of the valley, which we have been professionally advised will be compromised and properties devalued by further development on that site,” Mrs Butt said.
Mrs Butt cited a recent study by the London School of Economics, which reviewed more than a million homes within close proximity of large wind farms and found that their property values fell by up to 11 per cent.
Mrs Butt said the university also expects similar results from a further study set to be conducted on properties impacted by solar farms.
“This is a serious matter, we are talking about the value of people’s properties decreasing majorly for the benefit of one individual,” Mrs Butt added.
St Veep Parish councillor John Hancock, who made representations at Monday meeting on behalf of the people of St Veep and Lerryn, doesn’t believe the application will have a major effect on the area.
“It is on the edge of the conversation area and area of outstanding natural beauty so there were reasons for it not happening,” Mr Hancock said.
“But this is happening all over the country and not just here in Lerryn, it’s only a small development which is away from the village of Lerryn itself and only visible from a small number of houses.
“The farmer in question wants the panels to power his farm so he just wants to be green.”