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Heated row on energy plans for Week St Mary

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

TALKING POINT:  Resident Chris Heard, right, makes his point to Hugo House, head of business development at Good Energy.

TALKING POINT: Resident Chris Heard, right, makes his point to Hugo House, head of business development at Good Energy.

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RESIDENTS living close to a proposed wind and solar farm have hit out at the so-called "gloss" projected by developers, claiming levels of support for the scheme do not add up.

Good Energy wants to erect 14 400ft turbines and 75 acres of solar panels at Week St Mary – and says most of those surveyed are in favour.

But campaign group Communities Against Rural Exploitation (CARE) said that 95 per cent of the people they polled from the five parishes affected were against the scheme. The Week St Mary proposal is adjacent to a 138-acre site that already has planning permission for a solar farm.

Richard Sowerby, chairman of CARE, said: "This exit poll shows that, no matter what gloss Good Energy try to put on this publicly, they simply do not have support of the local community. They are losing support daily by providing highly selective information and trying to buy off local community groups with illusory offers of community benefit which amount in total to less than 1 per cent of annual project revenue."

A team from Good Energy held a consultation event in Week St Mary on Thursday to allow residents to find out more about the project and provide feedback.

They also extolled the benefits of providing local people with cheaper electricity and a £79,000 annual community fund to invest in local projects.

Householders living close to their Delabole wind farm have already signed up for the discounts and they said Week St Mary residents would save around £100 a year on their bills.

The Week St Mary proposal would be on five local farms, which would continue as farming businesses with dairy herds, beef, sheep, pigs and arable crops.

Good Energy said the site, in a natural bowl, would reduce visual impact.

But the large scale of the proposed development, concerns many residents.

Ian Stallard, who lives close by, stated: "This is entirely inappropriate for open countryside in North Cornwall. The 14 turbines are very nearly as high as the London Eye.

"The unnecessary size of this proposal shows it is not about the environment, it's more about a group of corporate outsiders harvesting subsidies."

Good Energy disputed CARE's findings.

Jessica Knowles, head of stakeholder engagement, said: "Half of the 307 local people we spoke to on the doorstep were in favour of a local windfarm that would reduce their electricity bills, with 28 per cent either slightly or strongly opposed, and the remainder not feeling strongly either way.

"Our research shows a far greater level of community support than has been suggested. The consultation was an important opportunity to listen to local people."

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2 comments

  • didifonstone  |  February 27 2013, 4:20PM

    At Good Energy's so-called consultation meeting at Week St Mary, Hugo House stated that there was nothing anyone in the local community could do to stop the building of the fourteen 410 foot wind turbines as it was already a done deal. Hugo House's comment not only reflects Good Energy's total distain for the local community, but also implies corruption within Cornwall County Council's planning department.

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  • Vindpust  |  February 27 2013, 2:29PM

    This has to be one of the great conjuring tricks of all time: promising locals a tiny percentage of the huge consumer-funded subsidies for wind power generation which are pushing up electricity bills and then having the nerve to claim they are reducing electricity bills. They must think we are stupid.

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