Thursday, 4 February 2016

Protecting Green Spaces

I have always been clear that we should aim to protect green spaces in Cornwall and have always taken a strong stance against field scale solar farms which I believe are trashing the countryside and taking away valuable agricultural land.  I have been working to get improvements in the planning system and, locally, we have received some positive news over the last week.

The Government has introduced tighter rules over the last couple of years to provide greater protections for good land. These measures includes a strong presumption against building solar developments on good agricultural land and the scrapping of farm subsidies on land that has been developed into a solar farm, to make clear that such land is no longer agricultural.

Locally there have been two ongoing proposals in particular which have attracted controversy, one at Lanyon in Gwinear and another at Butteriss Farm in Edgcumbe Both these applications were opposed by local residents, and rejected by Cornwall Council, yet were still referred to the Planning Inspectorate causing concern locally.

I am a realist, and recognise there are no easy answers in regards to our future energy supply. However, while I support solar panels being used on the roofs of buildings and the development of offshore marine renewables we are now seeing too many solar farms being built, with developer’s often riding rough shod over local views and concerns. 

That is why I wrote to the Department for Communities & Local Government, asking that the applications for Lanyon and Edgcumbe be "recovered" from the Planning Inspectorate for final determination by the Secretary of State.  

In each case I think they raised issues about the way that national planning policy is interpreted and the Secretary of State agreed with both cases being recovered.  It has subsequently been confirmed that the appeal at Edgcumbe has now been refused, which will be a relief for everyone living in Edgcumbe. We now await a new appeal hearing for Lanyon so that the community have a chance to make their case.