Section 2: responses to the areas specified by the Scoping Report
- Development of local area maps for wind energy development.
The NPPF requires that wind turbines are only allowed in areas allocated in Local Plans. At present, in Cornwall, this is only done through NDPs. However, there is an urgent need for a much more joined-up approach. It is imperative that Cornwall Council develops suitable mapping to include wind energy as part of this DPD and inserts these into the Cornwall Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.
This would be most effective if it involved local consultation on mapping for wind energy at several scales – large and small to allow for commercial, community and individual site developments
- Changes to the planning process to reduce the burden on smaller and community-owned renewable energy applications.
In particular, we recommend re-establishing the Renewable Energy Planning unit within the Council – which used to be a significant help developing renewable energy projects appropriate for Cornwall, because of the high skill levels developed in that section.
- For solar arrays, planning applications must include sustainable land use proposals under and around the panels.
Sustainable land use conditions would enable a balance to be struck between the need for local food production, renewable electricity generation and increased biodiversity. This would mean stronger requirements regarding the land grade and how the ecology of any solar array site can be supported.
- We strongly support “Providing a positive policy approach to support energy storage and development of infrastructure, to support smart energy considerations to help alleviate constraints on the electricity network.” (6.2.2) The DPD will be most effective if it provides for a wide range of technologies.
Without a smart grid, other gains in renewable generation will be much less effective. The DPD can facilitate a wide range of options, but this requires consideration of the different Planning implications of different technologies. For example, pumped storage can be achieved at seaside quarries, china clay lagoons, etc., and there are options for mineshaft storage, gravel pit batteries, energy storage towers, etc. It would limit our storage capacity if only certain technologies were provided for by the DPD.
- The scoping document (6.2.2) includes as a possible step: "Creating a clear policy stance on how proposals for renewable energy can demonstrate community support and a proportionate approach to providing community benefit from the installation.” We believe this is crucial and should be prioritised.
We strongly support the need for local communities to determine their own Planning priorities. However, the current NDP system does not adequately serve the wider needs of Cornwall’s renewable energy supply. Firstly, very few parish or town councils have access to the kind of specialist knowledge required to determine a credible local energy plan within the content of their NDP. Secondly, without any requirement to locate renewable supply, NDPs simply hand NIMBYs the opportunity to insist it is built somewhere else in Cornwall.
The Cornwall Local Plan needs to be revised in order to include far greater renewable energy provision. But the principle of local community engagement provided by the NDP needs to be retained - and strengthened. We believe that this is a good example of a scenario where a Citizens’ Assembly can be very useful. A conflict exists in most communities between the value of ‘landscape’ and the need for renewable energy. If a community can work through a facilitated process to solve the conflict, it promotes compromise and creative solutions, while also ensuring that decision-making is empowered at local community level.