'25,000 panels will hit Port Isaac tourism'
TOURISM could be damaged if a controversial plan to build a solar farm covering the equivalent of more than 15 football pitches near Port Isaac is given approval, objectors to the scheme have warned.
The application has sparked an outcry from villagers, parish councils and a local action group.
Protesters argue that the proposed farm will have a significant impact on landscape, historical features and use of agricultural lands and fear it will have a detrimental effect on the area's tourism.
Planning officers have recommended the application for approval and said the proposed development at Treswarrow Farm, which would cover 17 hectares – 42 acres – will generate electricity for 854 local homes and will reduce dependency on existing non-renewable energy sources.
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The plan goes before Cornwall Council's planning committee tomorrow (Thursday).
St Endellion Parish Council is concerned about the close proximity of the proposed solar farm to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) 700 metres north and a grade one listed building three-quarters of a mile away.
A council spokesman said: "Tourism is the key to success of this area. Most income is derived from tourism and this application offers nothing in respect of employment. The application would also be harmful to the grade one listed Church of St Endellion which is an important Cornish cultural venue."
Adjacent parish councils St Kew and St Minver Highlands also objected. They said the development was too large and detrimental to the quality of agricultural land.
Local campaigners the Amble Valley Group have been trying to raise awareness of the proposed solar farm in an attempt to inform local residents of the potential impacts.
Penny Kirkman, from the group, said: "The 25,000 industrial panels would be just below St Endellion Church and bang in front of two holiday cottage complexes on the edge of the AONB.
"This is a totally unspoilt rural and tourism-dependent area and not a single farmer has supported this application and three parish councils have also refused it."
Mrs Kirkman also believes the site is capable of productive agricultural use.
"The major planning travesty is that the land is grade three a, meaning 'best and most versatile', and is rented at present to feed a dairy herd. It is frightening for all of Cornwall that this type of land is apparently not protected for food production by our council."
Planning officer Ellis Crompton-Brown, who recommended the application for approval, has played down fears.
"While there will be some visual impacts, these would not be of overriding significance," he said. "In regard to impact on agriculture the development would aid farm diversification. It is considered that this use of land would not adversely affect the setting of listed buildings."