£1m green energy plans in jeopardy
THE CHAIRMAN of a group spearheading nearly £1 million of renewable energy projects in Fowey has told of her dismay after town councillors rejected some key proposals.
Christine Wharton of Fowey Renewable Energy Enterprise (FREE) is calling for the public to support its vision of cutting the town's carbon footprint and providing a cash windfall.
Nine planning applications by the community co-operative, made possible by a £64,000 grant awarded in February, went under the microscope on Wednesday at the council's planning meeting.
Following protests from opponents of the plans, the committee declared it opposed two of three wind turbine applications, classed as small by Cornwall Council and intended to subsidise other aspects of the FREE project.
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Cornwall Council planners have the final say, but Mrs Wharton said the town councillors' hostility could have jeopardised the viability of FREE's entire scheme.
"Without the turbines it's going to be very difficult to pay for the solar panels, unfortunately," she said.
"We'll have to go back and do some sums. If we don't get consent for the turbines we need to work out whether the rest of it's still viable."
FREE was set up in 2010 to create community-owned renewable power, originating from a Parish Plan update the same year put together by Fowey Town Forum working with the town council, and the chamber of commerce.
It has investigated potential sites for renewable energy resources for the town and held two public exhibitions.
FREE's proposals carry an estimated cost of around £980,000, with an initial gross income of £150,000 per year for 20 to 25 years.
"We were set up to fulfil the parish plan," said Mrs Wharton, adding that she had sympathy for the councillors who rejected the turbines.
"[They] had a rough ride from the protesters," she said. "Like us, councillors are volunteers; they don't deserve such treatment.
"Some people seem to find renewable energy scary. I find the climate chaos caused by global warming scary.
"While we need to use every means we can to cut our carbon emissions, wind offers a far better return.
"The turbines we've chosen save more carbon in their first year than they cost to manufacture, deliver and erect, and the return repays their cost in the first five years.
"There's no time to wait for different technologies to emerge; it's imperative that we act now.
"Most young people make a much firmer connection between the power we use and its source, between the need to use it and responsibility for producing it. We're forging their future, and that of their children. What we all do now will either protect future generations or ultimately lead to the destruction of the world around them.
"I'm a little disappointed at the refusals, but we did get consent for six proposals.
"It's a question of whether we could make those work financially."