Protest group urges people to sign petition to stop more solar farms being built on farmland at Luxulyan
A LUXULYAN protest group is urging people to sign a petition against more solar farms being built on farmland in Cornwall.
Joan Farmer from Primrose Cottage, a member of LAND (Luxulyan Against Needless Development), is leading the e-petition, which already has nearly 500 signatures.
The fields of Trenoweth and Tredinnick in the parish are currently being developed into solar farms by German company Kronos and will total 42 acres.
The same firm is building other solar farms in Cornwall, including a 130-acre site at Week St Mary.
Ms Farmer said the developments were "industrialising the landscape" of Luxulyan and the county.
"We've been trying to fight the plethora of solar farms springing up all over the place," she said.
"On a small scale it's a very good idea but tourism, farming and crop production are very important to the county and it's all being destroyed.
"[The Luxulyan solar farms] are so ugly with the high-security fencing, CCTV and lighting. It looks like a prison camp.
"They're worse than wind turbines because they take up so much agricultural land. It really is appalling, and it's only the tip of the iceberg."
She said further proposals in the Luxulyan area included land at Bodiggo and Bodwen, bringing the parish's total to 160 acres. However, this figure could be reduced when the planning applications are submitted to Cornwall Council.
Fellow LAND member Roger Smith said there had not been enough consultation on the "rash" of solar farms proposed for the St Austell area.
"The role of Cornwall Council has been disquieting. It has adopted a policy of encouraging solar farms regardless of the consequences and without first establishing a consensus," he said.
A council spokesman said the county had seen considerable interest in the development of solar farms because of government incentives and the high number of sunlight hours.
"Cornwall Council has prepared a suite of planning guidance documents for renewable energy, including large-scale solar PV facilities," said the authority.
"This planning guidance has been driven by the concept of sustainable development and has been used by planning authorities throughout the UK.
"It contains information relating to public engagement and consultation and also strongly advocates that, where agricultural land is proposed, it should be low-grade agricultural land, generally currently used for sheep-grazing, and that sheep-grazing should continue beneath the solar panels in order to sustainably manage the grass sward."
He added that planning permission was only granted for 25 years, after which the infrastructure was removed and the site restored.
The e-petition on can be found at http://www.freepetition.co.uk/cornwall/SignPetition.aspx?apcode=P49ID2811201220538