Since becoming a Unitary Authority several years ago, Cornwall Council has been somewhat in limbo regarding it’s planning policy. Until the Cornwall Local Plan has been developed and approved, (setting out clear policies on what will or won’t be permitted and where) the local council has no clear boundaries or guidance when it comes to planning approvals. It is therefore essential that this local policy is agreed and put into practice.
The Local Plan covers various key areas of planning, such as housing and other construction developments, but also renewable energy developments. Cornwall has already made good progress with the Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP), stating that, as a Unitary Authority, Cornwall Council has a responsibility to improve thier use of renewable energy, and to inspire and support the development of it’s green economy.
The SEAP sets out measures and policies that will be implemented to achieve specified EU targets, inlcuding
- Reduce energy demand by at least 20% by 2020
- Increase installed renewable energy by at least 20% by 2020
The SEAP aims for Cornwall to become a market leader in innovative business and low carbon technologies leading to a low carbon energy future and a thriving green economy for Cornwall. Priority 4 of the Economic Growth Strategy for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly is ‘Using the natural environment responsibly as a key economic asset’. Objectives include:
- Work to attract investment to grow renewable and marine sectors;
- Support businesses that also contribute towards protecting our environmental assets, for example sustainable construction and the built environment, use of brown-field sites as in the Eco-town, transport and waste management;
- Promote Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as a ‘green exemplar’ developing a concept of ‘environmental growth’, using economic prosperity to enhance the environment.
The steady influx of large sclae renewable energy developments in recent years has understandably divided local opinion. When it comes to large scale renewables developments, there is often local opposition. With headlines such as ‘Wind turbines are slashing house prices by 20% in St Enoder parish’ it’s little wonder there are local reservations. However, Cornwall is currently heavily reliant on the importation of fossil fuels to meet much of its energy demands. With an estimated annual energy bill of £1.4 billion, the majority of this money leaves the Cornish economy and energy costs continue to rise.
We also have the highest levels of solar irradiation in mainland UK; amongst the best wind resources in Western Europe; the best geothermal resources in the UK and huge potential marine energy resources – ideally suited to supporting a thriving green economy, with the right approach.
Demand for energy is showing little sign of slowing down, and so the question arises of how best to meet that demand locally and support Cornish communities. Cornwall Council are working on the Renewable Energy Supplementary Planning Document, which will form part of the Local Plan. The document will contain guidance on a range of renewable energy technologies and provide an explanation of community ownership. It highlights the importance of effective community engagement before submitting a planning application and contains detailed guidance on specific issues such as landscape and cumulative impact, with special reference to wind turbines and solar farms. The council is currently in the consultation stage and are seeking the views of local people.
The consultation will be open until Friday 27th March.
Comments should be emailed to email@example.com or posted to Dan Nicholls, Principal Development Officer, Planning Delivery Team, Cornwall Council, Circuit House, St Clement Street, Truro TR1 1EB, with the document you are responding to clearly identified within your correspondence. Any queries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or 01872 224555.
Please ensure you get your comments to the relevant email or postal address by 5pm on Friday 27 March 2015.