Within our Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) we have a policy to support sources of renewable energy – we recognise high levels of carbon emissions come from heating our residential dwellings. We also had a duty to ensure policies were written to preserve and conserve the natural landscape and beauty of the area.
At the time the NDP was being consulted on and written, the main priority for people was to preserve the natural landscape and character of the area (bear in mind the plan was submitted after its Regulation 14 consultation in 2019 – with the formal process of examination and checking for compliance being delayed due to the Covid pandemic). We recognise that people’s individual needs and priorities change as external factors come into force – we are currently seeing an unprecedented fuel crisis as well as a climate emergency and clearly even within the space of a few years, people’s priorities have altered.
We would not want to discourage residents from considering renewable energy options or from applying for any grants which may be available: our Renewable Energy Policy (REN) has the intention to “encourage provision of additional renewable energy potential and ensure that renewable energy is facilitated in a way that reflects the sensitive character of Calstock Parish”.
Clearly there is a balance to be struck between the impact on the landscape and scenic beauty of the AONB, versus the benefits of providing renewable energy at a dwelling, given the climate change crisis. Therefore, each application will be taken on its individual merit. Because of a number of policies (not just our NDP), in making the final decision, Cornwall Council Planning Officers will consider the visual impact of the panels and their prominence in their surrounding landscapes weighed up against the environmental and energy benefits.
In the new Council year (May) we are implementing a Planning Strategy Advisory Committee. One aim of this group will be to monitor the NDP and other relevant planning policies and review them, recommending modifications to the Parish Council as appropriate. As the NDP has now been ratified any modification must be carefully thought through with a strong case for change. Reviewing ‘live’ applications against policy will help us assess whether the current policies help or hinder a change in community priority or need.
Our NDP can be viewed here
The Renewable Energy Policy can be found from pages 79-90