224-acre solar energy farm plan faces local backlash
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.
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"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."