THE environmental impact of a seafront hotel's expansion plans is to be formally assessed following a plea to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles by a conservation group.
In response to a letter from the Friends of Pendower Beach, Mr Pickles ruled an environmental impact assessment (EIA) must be carried out on the proposed development of the Nare Hotel near Veryan on the Roseland.
The scheme includes extensions to the current facilities and the building of new accommodation units.
Cornwall Council, the planning authority, held that no EIA was required, a view opposed by Natural England, the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) unit and the National Trust.
The Nare sits on a designated Heritage Coast in an AONB and adjacent to a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and a special area of conservation.
Natural England said it believed the development would significantly affect the shore dock plant, one of Europe's most threatened species, and bats, which are protected. Mr Pickles said he considered the proposal would be likely to have significant effects on the environment for a number of reasons.
Helen Hastings, chairman of the Friends of Pendower Beach, said: "Our aim is to make sure Cornwall Council knows, understands, interprets and implements the law – which they didn't do in this case. Therefore we're delighted with the Secretary of State's decision.
"We're not against all development but we strongly believe that it must fit in with the regulations."
An EIA will assess the effect the development could have on the environment and ensures planners consider this.
Toby Ashworth, proprietor and managing director of the hotel, said: "Unfortunately we're caught between a discussion on technical procedures between Cornwall Council and the Secretary of State. This is a frustration and obviously a disappointment.
"We took best advice in August 2011 on the level of information required, including dialogue with our local planning department, and submitted our planning application on that basis.
"We've already proved there's 'no likely significant environmental impact' and we're working at the moment to supply the additional technical information as directed by the Secretary of State."