PLANS for a solar farm to be built on land near Luxulyan are set to be approved – despite the site lying within an area containing historical medieval artefacts.
The application seeks to construct a solar farm of up to 5.8MW with attendant infrastructure on land at Tredinnick Fields, Luxulyan.
But an independent assessment has revealed that the site contains "extensive evidence for medieval and post-medieval agriculture, settlement and tin mining".
Members of Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee chose to delegate a final decision on the application to the head of planning, Phil Mason, to approve, subject to conditions and any final comments from Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service, at a meeting last Thursday.
In May, an historic environment assessment was carried out by AC Archaeology on behalf of the applicant, Kronos Solar GmbH.
The report stated: "The value of these heritage assets has been evaluated as of generally 'medium significance', while the archaeological potential for remains to be present dating from the prehistoric through to the early medieval period has been rated from low to moderate, with the medieval and post-medieval periods considered as having high potential."
In light of the report, Cornwall Council's Historic Environment Service has recommended that the eastern enclose of the development be removed entirely from the application site, or it may be refused planning consent.
In its submissions, it stated: "Construction of the ground beams will involve ground disturbance likely to exceed 200mm and without further information regarding the depths of soil and geological levels on this site it is not possible to predict if these impacts, or further impacts connected with the laying out of inverter stations, cable trenches, maintenance tracks and fencing, will result in damage to any archaeological features present."
The target date for a decision on the plans, which would occupy two adjacent fields and cover seven hectares (17 acres), is today.
Two letters of objection have been received, one from the Cornwall branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
The CPRE said that it was calling on the planning authority to refuse planning consent because "if approved, it would set a precedent for other large-scale solar farms to be constructed across Cornwall, which as a consequence could destroy the county as an attractive destination for holidaymakers and place the tourist industry in decline".
Luxulyan Parish Council, supports the application. Its recommendations included:
The project would help meet emissions reduction targets and would be the parish's contribution to this
The land being used is low-grade agricultural land mainly suitable for grazing for livestock which use could continue.
The topograhy of the land will cause minimal visual intrusion into the community.