Withiel Parish Council Minutes of the Meeting held on 20 Feb 2013

Withiel Parish Council
Minutes of the extra-ordinary meeting held in the Village Hall at 7.15pm on
Wednesday, 20th February 2013

Present: Cllr J Piper, Cllr N Mather, Cllr M Biddick, Cllr D Hore, Cllr E Harper.  Parish Clerk: Mrs C Wilson.
Also Present: CC Mick Martin, 10 members of the public.

The meeting began at 7.20. The Chairman welcomed all and explained that he waited extra time to see if anyone else would arrive. He then invited members of the public to address the meeting.

J Pentland:
• Requested a copy of these minutes because the Parish Magazine had received many calls about the proposed Solar Park.

Other comments about the proposed Photovoltaic Solar Park – from a nearby resident, members of the parish, and landowners of Retire Common:
• Why would anyone in the parish want the park except the landowner?
• No agricultural land, even Grade 3, should be used for photovoltaic arrays.
• Roofs of buildings in industrial parks, barns and homes could be used instead of land.
• The parish is becoming too industrial.
• Will the installation affect nearby bore hole water?
• Will this set a precedent for more solar parks in the parish and surrounding parishes?
• The Energy Commission and MP Dan Rogerson have stated that ‘green energy’ may be objected to on visual grounds.
• It will be unsightly.
• Cornwall Council has not enforced the landscaping conditions on previous applications in our parish.
• We don’t believe CC will do enough to ensure Kronos keeps their promises.
• Even when landscaping and screening are part of a planning application, the contract is not necessarily adhered to or enforced by CC.

Retire Common:
• Retire Common has a 20+ year history of care which has finally made it one of the first High Level Stewardship SSSIs.
• Receives a DEFRA annual grant of £10K.
• Natural England has stipulated open access to the land so the public may use & enjoy it
• The commoners have a duty of care and must object to this installation.
• The installation will ‘impair enjoyment’.
• Will the solar industrial installation affect the hydrology of Retire Common?
• People come almost daily (confirmed by Cllr Harper who tends his grazing animals there every day) to enjoy the common and study its special plants.
• The soil of Retire Common is very shallow with rock below.

CC Martin:
• The future re-evaluation of renewable energy policy in Cornwall under the Local Plan will not affect the decision for this solar park.

In favour:
• It is a more efficient use of Grade 3 land.
• It is a good income for landowners who aren’t farmers.
• It could become a haven for wildlife; the extra hedging would become a further habitat.
• The land would be left almost completely undisturbed after the construction is over.

1. Members’ declarations of interest. None

2. Apologies for absence. Cllr Martyn and Cllr Hancock sent apologies due to illness.

3. Minutes. The minutes of 6th February 2013 were approved unanimously and signed by the Chairman. Proposed Cllr Harper, 2nd Cllr Mather.

4. Matters for Report.

a. Public Consultation. 28 Members of the public, including 5 Parish Councillors and CC Martin attended on 13 February concerning the proposed Solar Park, hosted by Kronos.
b. Varcoe’s Field drainage. At least two councillors were informed that a drain does exist. CC Martin has reported the fact to Highways and asked them to reinvestigate.
c. PFA funds. As reported at the last meeting, the Council still holds the £300 for the Playing Field Association and is awaiting a written request from the PFA to release the funds.

5. Planning.

a. Report of Planning decision. PA12/06068. Application Received: 18 Jun 2012. Address: Land South Of Kerriers Lanivet Bodmin Cornwall. Siting of caravan for occasional on-site equestrian welfare use. Status: Refusal.
b. Correspondence. Letter from Mr and Mrs Richards, Kerriers, was read out. He has retracted all but one objection to the Solar Park PA12/10939, which is a concern that proper drainage is not addressed in the plans.
c. PA12/10939 Provision of photovoltaic solar park and ancillary infrastructure over approximately 22ha and generating approximately 9.58 MW. Land at Kerriers Withiel Bodmin Cornwall; Provision of photovoltaic solar park and ancillary infrastructure. Applicant Name: KS SPV22 Ltd.
Supported. Proposed Cllr Biddick; 2nd Cllr Hore; Cllr Harper in favour; Cllr Mather objected.
Withiel Parish Council consultee comments:

***Approved with conditions. Withiel Council has considered this application on three separate occasions and there have been two public consultations. The Council has been impressed with the integrity of Kronos’ representatives. However, there has been consistent, strong, though limited, objection to the installation in the Parish. Along with their approval, the Council appreciates that Withiel is now host to quite a few ‘green energy’ schemes, be they turbines or solar, which change the character of the Parish, and hopes that the Parish and surrounding rural area will not be targeted for any more such schemes.
Withiel Council is also relying upon Cornwall Council to monitor and uphold the formal contractual conditions, which should include the following:
1) that the almost 2 metre deep posts drilled into the land will not affect the hydrology of Retire Common SSSI, nor affect the quality or quantity of water supplying residents in the area.
2) that construction will not take place during the nesting season (1st March – 31st July).
3) that the drainage for the Richards’ property is adequate.
4) that hedges and other landscaping is soon mature enough to screen the site from nearby residents in Withiel and Roche parishes.
5) that there will be no access at any time over Retire Common for construction, maintenance or the power cable.

6. Correspondence.

a. Invitation to apply for CC Standard’s Committee. Cllr Mather requested details.
b. South West Water 25 Year Future Outlook.
c. Gail Thomas, member of the parish, wrote on behalf of herself and her husband. She requested her email be read out and distributed to all councillors. Mrs Thomas explains that soon after taking her position, the Clerk asked Mr Thomas to assist with the parish accounts, and she states categorically that ‘the approach to the Cornish Guardian did not come from either of us’.

7. Business for the next meeting.

a. Review of Standing Orders
b. Review of Financial Regulations

8. Date of Next Meeting: Wednesday 6th March 2013 @ 7.15 pm.

The closed meeting ended at 8.17 pm with the Chairman thanking all those who attended.

Christine Wilson – Parish Clerk
21st February 2013