Cornwall Council has become the first planning authority in England to prioritise community ownership in the planning process for renewable energy.
The local authority has also become the first local authority to publish detailed guidance on renewable energy development, thereby putting Cornwall at the forefront of efforts to promote the community ownership of renewable energy.
A ground-breaking new planning document will provide guidance on how renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, wave, geothermal and biomass can be deployed without harming Cornwall’s environment and heritage. In a consultation running until 27th March 2015, local residents and communities in the county are being asked to share their views on the document, known as the draft Renewable Energy Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), produced by the Council’s Planning Service.
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.
“Cornwall benefits from a range of significant renewable energy resources, including onshore wind, solar, deep geothermal, biomass and marine energy potential” said Edwina Hannaford, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning. “The Council places great importance on the need to manage these valuable resources responsibly while safeguarding our local environment and the lives of residents. We also recognise the great potential for residents and communities to be involved in and benefit from the transition to a low carbon Cornwall – indeed Cornwall Council continues to lead the way in this respect.”
Ms Hannaford added that the document is being developed to provide the detailed guidance needed to help the Cornwall Local Plan achieve these goals. Once adopted, the SPD will become part of the local planning framework for Cornwall and will be taken into account when determining renewable energy planning applications. This in turn will be a significant step forward in the emergence of a local energy market for the county and a major contribution to the debate on a national level.