This 5 MW SPV, originally approved subject to conditions (23 August 2012) has now (12 March 2013) been given final approval.
This is what Pensipple looks like at the moment
This is what it will soon look like
Which do you prefer? Please let Mike Varney know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten reasons why Pensipple should not have been approved
It is our contention that (1) had we known what we know now regarding local planning regulations, particularly the Caradon Plan 2007, and (2) had the Cornwall Strategic Planning Committee held a site meeting in order to view the location, Pensipple would never have been passed. However, owing to the Committee being supplied with incorrect information by its own planning officers, particularly regarding the distance to the next similar application, no site meeting was held, and Pensipple was approved.
The Pensipple application, as approved, violates the following national and local planning rules and regulations
1. Those parts of the new National Planning Policy Framework which stipulate that in the case of renewable energy, applications should
- comply with adopted Local Plan policies (Section 96, p. 22),
- ensure that in the case of renewable energy, ‘adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily, including cumulative landscape and visual impacts’ (Section 97, p. 22).
- take into account the economic benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land (Grades 1, 2, and 3a [p. 50]; see below), and should seek to use areas of lower quality land in preference to that (sic) of higher quality (section 112, p. 26)
- protect areas of tranquillity (sic) (Section 123, p. 29),
2. Those sections of the Caradon Local Plan 2007 which state that proposals
- must not have an unacceptable impact upon the character and appearance of the immediate and wider landscape, and of areas of natural, cultural, historical or architectural interest (Policy REN1, p. 95)
- must not overshadow or overbear nearby habitations (Policy REN1, p. 95)
- should not use the best and most versatile agricultural land, but the lowest grade of land available (Policy CL5, p. 48)
- in AGLVS, should not materially harm the character of an area (Policy CL9, p. 50).
3. That section of Cornwall Council’s own Technical Paper E4 (a) on Landscape Sensitivity to Wind and Large Scale Photovoltaic Development, which states (Section p. 65) that:
The landscape strategy (for the East Looe river valley) is … a landscape with occasional very small or small scale solar developments north of Looe Mills, and a landscape without solar PV development south of Looe Mills … (Section C23, p. 65)
4. That section of Cornwall Council’s own Technical Paper E4(b) Annex I Landscape Sensitivity, which states that
(owing) to the high sensitivity and intimate scale in the landscape, SPV development in the Looe Valley as a whole should be limited to those less than 5 ha (12.5 acres), and reiterates the statement that the landscape strategy (for the East Looe river valley) is … a landscape without solar PV development south of Looe Mills … (Section C23, p. 167).
Pensipple is 15 ha!
5. At the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) of 23 Aug 2012, when Pensipple was approved subject to conditions, the Committee was given incorrect information by the Case Officer. In particular, he did not declare there had already been another, similar application for a 4.5 MW SVP at a location only 200 m away (PA12/07247, Lower Town Farm, Trewidland), details of which were posted on the Cornwall Council Planning website at least two days before the meeting. On later challenging this decision, we were told by the Council’s representative that ‘the officer did not mention Lower Town Farm as it is the practise that the officer’s report refers to other relevant planning applications and Lower Town Farm was a screening opinion and not a planning application’, and that ‘No subsequent planning application has ever been submitted as far as I can see from our records’. Both of these statements are manifestly incorrect.
6. Two members of the local Dobwalls and Trewidland community then attempted to correct the error at the SPC meeting, but were silenced by the chairman.
7. As a result, the Strategic Planning Committee was also informed by the Case Officer that the next nearest similar development to Pensipple was at North Park Farm, some 3.5 km to the east, whereas in fact Lower Town is only 200m north of Pensipple.
8. The Committee was also told by the Case Officer that the site is classified as Grade 3b agricultural land. However, the land classification survey on which that statement is based is peremptory to say the least, and does not follow the correct procedure as described for this purpose by Natural England. Basically, on the strength of five drilled holes 10-14 inches (25-35 cm) deep, it was decided that the land is ‘within sub-grade B’. No pits were dug, as is required by Natural England’s protocol (see above), and the boreholes should have been 1.2 m (4 feet) deep, not 0.3 m.
9. On top of all these reasons, objections on the part of Dobwalls & Trewidland Parish Council, and the local community were ignored, and the usual set of misleading photographs, which portrayed the site as flat, were provided by the developers (but see above).
10. Last, when members of the Strategic Planning Committee finally did visit the area, in connection with the Lower Town Farm application (see above), several members were considerably taken aback when they saw the actual location of Pensipple.
And yet still they approved it!