PLANS for three wind turbines on the border of Newtown, Fowey, were discussed by objectors and advocates alike – but campaigners appear no closer to a unified approach concerning the future of Fowey's energy.
The inaugural public meeting of FLAG (Fowey Landscape Action Group) was held last Thursday evening and was attended by around 60 local people.
FLAG was formed in July in response to FREE's (Fowey Renewable Energy Enterprise) plans to make the town more environmentally friendly.
Established in 2010, FREE has submitted planning applications for two 46-metre-high turbines at Lescrow Farm and Upper Penhale, with a third application for a 15-metre mast at Lower Penhale.
The pro-wind group was established as a part of Fowey Town Forum's attempts to address issues of energy security and meet the sustainable energy needs outlined in the 2010 Parish Plan.
FLAG member Clive Norris was keen to play down the suggestion of an acrimonious divide in the community.
"To say that the community is split is an exaggeration," he said.
"FREE is part of the Fowey Town Forum and has presented to the town council and had its approval. We are playing catch-up."
The decision was taken in the interests of fairness to invite FREE chairman Christine Wharton to address the meeting.
Mr Norris said: "FLAG is aware of why renewable energy is important, but eager to hear why the specifics of FREE's plans were not subject to change."
Mr Norris emphasised that the group was committed to taking action "in the proper way", and used the meeting as an opportunity to expound the results of an independent consultancy report on FREE's applications.
The report found three key issues:
Applications for the two larger turbines, Endurance E-3120 50kW, were invalid as they concerned a machine that could not be supplied.
FREE underestimated the amount of power used on average in each individual Cornish home.
The revised National Planning Policy Framework, released on March 29, 2012, adds weight to the preservation of AONBs (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Two of the proposed turbines are in the Fowey AONB, the third being between 250 to 275 metres away.
However, the same report also describes sustainable development, of which renewable energy is a part, as a "golden thread" which is "at the heart" of the new planning policy.
Considering the impasse of viewpoints and priorities for the two groups, Mr Norris speculated on a potential solution which would benefit all Cornish communities embroiled in debates over wind power and the building of turbines.
"The three proposed turbines would all feed into the National Grid, not directly into people's homes. Therefore FREE could buy one big turbine instead of three and site it on a larger wind farm.
"The profits would still come back to the community – the only losers would be the landowners who are paid rent."
FREE said in response to the FLAG report's findings: "It is such a shame FLAG was unable to engage with us during our two-year development period, when all these sites were being considered."
For more, see next week's Cornish Guardian.