'Split' plan for controversial green energy farm unveiled
Energy chiefs are set to unveil updated plans today for what could eventually form part of the biggest combined renewable energy farm in Cornwall.
Plans have been in the offing since January for a huge wind and solar farm at Week St Mary, near Bude, which could provide enough energy to power around 20,000 homes.
Proposals for the 80-acre site include around 75 acres of solar panels alongside 11 400ft turbines, scaled down from an original 14 following an earlier public consultation.
If it is given consent the farm would be adjacent to a 138-acre site that already has planning permission for a solar farm.
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Although initially put forward together, the plans have been split into two by developer Good Energy, with the wind turbines going to public consultation today before plans for it are submitted.
The solar farm would then head to public consultation, before again, if applicable, being submitted to Cornwall Council's planning department.
Good Energy, which also owns and recently upgraded the first commercial wind farm in Britain in Delabole, has offered electricity bill discounts to customers living within five kilometres of the farm.
The energy firm says the local tariff would offer a 20% discount on electricity bills, claiming to save customers £100 a year, prompting some accusations of "bribery" by some residents.
Juliet Davenport OBE, chief executive and founder of the company, said: "Our duty, as a responsible and ethical green electricity supplier is to set new benchmarks for community engagement, benefit and ownership and that's what we are setting out to do with this project."
Good Energy originally consulted on a far larger 224-acre solar farm, which would have become the biggest in the country, last year.
However, after requesting a 'scoping opinion' from Cornwall Council to assess the extent of the environmental impact, scaled down versions of the plans , alongside a wind farm were made public in January.
The company estimates that if the 11 turbines are built they would produce 25.3MW of electricity or enough to power 13,600 homes.
As well as providing a electricity tariff for locals, it would also see the creation of a £50,600-a-year community fund to invest in local projects. The company claimed that half of the 307 local people it spoke to in a consultation were in favour of a local wind farm that would reduce their electricity bills.
However, campaign group Communities Against Rural Exploitation (CARE), which was set up in opposition to the proposals, disputed the claims saying that 95% of the people from the five parishes they had spoken to were affected.
Criticisms of the project include that it will "ruin the village", with one resident likening it to a local housing development which went ahead despite opposition.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is currently drawing up a study examining the impact wind farms have on the countryside.
Meanwhile Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne, recently labelled solar farms a "monstrous desecration".
The consultation will run from 12.30pm to 3.30pm at Week St Mary Parish Hall.